Othello Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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How does Iago manipulate Othello?

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At the beginning of the play, Iago divulges his vengeful and maliciously devious intention to manipulate and mislead Othello, his so-called friend. He tells Roderigo, "I follow him to serve my turn upon him." He means that he intends to mislead Othello by continuing to act as his trustworthy and obedient agent while, in fact, plotting against him.

Iago and Roderigo later successfully demonize Othello by convincing Brabantio that the general has abducted his beautiful daughter, Desdemona. Brabantio is driven to fury and decides to have Othello arrested for such an ignominy. At this point, Iago informs Roderigo that he has to leave and join Othello to further convince the general of his support. He tells Roderigo:

Yet, for necessity of present life,
I must show out a flag and sign of love,
Which is indeed but sign. 

Iago's action in this regard epitomizes the nature of his strategy, which is to convince the general of his total commitment. In this way, Iago will not only retain Othello's...

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cheryldhearn | Student

The plot of Othello is driven by the machinations of the play’s chief antagonist, the conniving Iago. With strategic brilliance, Iago continuously controls the rest of the cast by manipulating their fragile emotions. To garner trust, Iago disguises his true motives and is ironically viewed by several characters as a loyal confidant, even going so far as to be nicknamed “Honest Iago” by the very people he seeks to destroy (Othello 1.3. 335). From this vantage point, Iago sows the seeds of discord by exploiting his targets’ fears and insecurities. He pinpoints his targets’ worst nightmares, most primarily Othello’s fear of being cuckolded, and subtly suggests that there may be truth to these fears. Finally, Iago seemingly distances himself from his own manipulations by carefully using reverse psychology and outwardly dissuading the feelings he intends to inspire. He does this by first suggesting a conspiracy to his target and then quickly stepping back from the implanted idea, leaving his hapless victim to further dwell on the theory with his own imagination. Iago even warns Othello about his jealousy, “a green-eyed monster” that propels the Moor to disaster, so that Othello does not directly associate Iago with his insecurity (Othello 3.3. 196).

yamas321 | Student

by lying throughout