How do the characters' inferiorities lead to destruction in Othello?

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Noelle Matteson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If by inferiorities, you mean weaknesses or inferiority complexes, it is true that every character in the play has insecurities and flaws. One of Cassio’s weaknesses is alcohol: “I have very poor and unhappy brains for drinking.” Iago uses this against him, insisting that he drink at a party. Cassio then becomes belligerent and gets into a fight, a mistake that loses him his job. In turn, he asks Desdemona to help convince Othello to forgive him. Iago pretends that Cassio and Desdemona’s “conspiring” is actually proof that they are having an affair, which ultimately leads to Cassio’s injury and the deaths of Desdemona, Othello, Emilia, and Roderigo.

Othello’s secret fears and pride also make him susceptible to Iago. Though seemingly confident and calm, Othello slowly believes Iago’s suggestions that Desdemona is cheating on him with Cassio. Iago claims that it is unnatural for a young white woman to love an older black man like Othello, and he accuses women of being manipulative and deceitful. Othello eventually starts to wonder about her loyalty and his worth, “And yet, how nature erring from itself--”.  He eventually murders his wife in a fit of jealousy.

Even Desdemona and Emilia have faults. Desdemona defends Othello as he becomes abusive, and Emilia steals Desdemona’s handkerchief for Iago and does not tell Desdemona. Iago’s wicked plots also contribute to his own downfall, since he is finally caught and tortured. One reason why Othello is such a painful play is because the imperfect characters’ flaws contribute to their tragic destruction.