Othello Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

Othello book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Explain how Iago is manipulative in Othello, including specific examples and quotations.

Iago manipulates the other characters of Othello by preying on and triggering their individual doubts and insecurities. He implies to Othello that his wife, Desdemona, is having an affair with Cassio, but, importantly, he makes his implications sound hesitant so that Othello is more inclined to believe him. Iago also leads people into situations that make them appear to confirm what Iago has told other characters.

Expert Answers info

David Alberts, Ph.D. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseCollege Professor, Professional Writer

bookB.A. from Kent State University

bookM.A. from West Virginia State University

bookPh.D. from Bowling Green State University

calendarEducator since 2019

write797 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Science

Iago is an interesting villain. Whereas many of Shakespeare's villains—like Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Angelo (in Measure for Measure), Tamora (in Titus Andronicus), and Richard III—generally take care of business themselves or directly order someone else to do it, it's not until the last act of Othello that Iago does anything to get his own hands dirty. Even then, Iago gets personally involved only because his plan against Othello goes slightly awry, and he has to step in to sort things out by wounding Cassio and murdering Roderigo in act 5, scene 1. Later, in act 5, scene 2, Iago kills his own wife, Emelia, for revealing his plan to destroy Othello and Desdemona, but this occurs only after his plan has already succeeded. Until then, Iago is content to manipulate others into doing his dirty work.

Iago is a master of insinuation and deception, and he uses those skills to take advantage of other characters' weaknesses and insecurities. Othello is a trusting soul, and Iago insinuates himself...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 1,267 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

lsumner eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write1,183 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

gadget | Student

Iago's ability to read a persons character allows him to find the flaws in each of his victims ...especially Othello , who opened himself to Iago's plotting and scheming.

He creates an impression of honesty and truth only to win Othello over and the be trusted wholeheartedly by the General. Iago learns of Othello's weakness, being his wife Desdemona, and uses this to plant doubt that leads to anger and hatred to the point of murder.

Iago draws Othello in by pretending in his presence to be true to the Moor and by so doing, gains Othello's trust. He 'implies' to Othello what he learns in the hope that Othello falls for his deceit. He wins by convincing Othello of his loyalty and the fact that he wishes not to 'cause doubt', yet that was his sole purpose. Othello buys into the pretense and allows Iago to manipulate his thoughts against his wife Desdemona.

He cleverly sets both Desdemona and Cassio up for the bait, and Othello being so trusting , sees into this eluding as a betrayal by his adored wife with his newly promoted lieutenant.

The rest is left to Othello to 'find out' and come to a conclusion about. and all Iago does is sit back and watch the ball in play as the anger envelopes Othello and his hatred over powers the otherwise calm and calculated general he is...