How does Iago manipulate Othello and Desdemona in Act 4?

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Lynn Ramsson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In Act 4 of Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Othello, Iago's villainy is most apparent in the outcomes of his earlier schemes, but he does continue to manipulate Othello and Desdemona in fiendish ways that intensify the drama.

For example, in scene 1, Iago makes repeated insinuating comments to Othello without accusing Desdemona of infidelity directly. This manipulation makes Othello jealous and rageful because it stimulates his imagination in cruel and damaging ways. When Iago finally lies, specifying that Cassio has been with Desdemona, Othello cannot cope with this information and is overwhelmed.

In scene 2, Desdemona confides in Iago about Othello's confusing accusations, suggesting that someone must have planted terrible ideas in Othello's head about her fidelity. Iago manipulates Desdemona in this moment, minimizing Othello's emotional state and explaining his irrationality as a consequence of work-related stress.

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At this point in the play, Othello has become convinced that Desdemona gave...

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