List 5 ways in which Iago plants suspicions in Othello's mind.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Iago plants suspicion in the mind of Othello in the following five ways:

When Iago gives Othello reason to doubt Othello's faith in Cassio, he does so in two ways: first of all, Iago gets Cassio drunk. While in an inebriated state, Cassio not only lacks full control over his...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Iago plants suspicion in the mind of Othello in the following five ways:

When Iago gives Othello reason to doubt Othello's faith in Cassio, he does so in two ways: first of all, Iago gets Cassio drunk. While in an inebriated state, Cassio not only lacks full control over his actions, he lacks full control of his reputation as a stand-up person, worthy of the promotion he has just received and able to behave in public. Secondly, Iago directly misleads Othello, explaining that Cassio's fight with Montano was Cassio's fault. These actions have the effect of causing Othello to feel doubt in himself, which is an ideal set-up for him to feel doubt later in his choice of wife.

Later in the play, when Iago gives Othello reason to doubt Othello's faith in Desdemona, he does so in three ways: firstly, Iago emphasizes Desdemona's fallibility as a wife to Othello simply by suggesting she is unfaithful and exacerbating Othello's own insecurity in himself as a clever judge of character; secondly, Iago points out that Desdemona had defied her father to marry Othello, suggesting that she is not to be trusted because she has an innate rashness about her character; thirdly, Iago plants a precious belonging of Desdemona's in Cassio's room, implying that she has left it there when visiting her lover. Two verbal suggestions and one direct gesture of misleading, among others, work effectively to drive Othello mad with jealousy.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Iago is a masterful manipulator, and Shakespeare includes more than five examples of Iago planting seeds of doubts in Othello's mind, but below are five key suspicions.

1. To accomplish his goals, Iago wants to get rid of Cassio; so he first develops a way to disqualify Cassio as Othello's right-hand man.  In Act 2, Scene 3, he uses Roderigo to get Cassio drunk and to pick a fight with him, and then when Iago has to relay what "really happened" to Othello, he tells him that Cassio attacked Montano seemingly for no other reason than because he was rash and drunk.  Othello fires Cassio on the spot.

2.  In Act 3, Scene 2, when Iago and Othello first enter the garden, Iago draws Othello's attention to Desdemona talking to Cassio, and says, "Ha! I like not that."  With those simple words he gets Othello to start questioning why it is a problem for his wife to talk to Cassio.

3.  In the same scene, Iago pushes the issue farther by reminding Othello that Cassio and Desdemona would have had plenty of time to spend together because back in Venice, Othello used Cassio as his messenger when he was courting Desdemona.

4.  Because Iago has already orchestrated a situation where Desdemona will talk to her husband about Cassio, he tells Othello, "Look to your wife; observe her well with Cassio."  He knows that Othello will not be swayed with mere words; so he sets up a situation where Othello will "see" Desdemona's unfaithfulness.

5.  The most important seed of doubt is, of course, the handkerchief incident at the end of Act 3.  By planting the handkerchief with Cassio and causing Othello to notice that Desdemona does not have the handkerchief, Iago not only causes unwarranted suspicion in Othello's mind but also provides the "ocular proof" that Othello needs.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team