What are some specific examples of deception in Othello that are not said by Iago?

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are certainly some instances of deception that are not perpetuated by Iago.

In Act III, Scene 4, Desdemona has lost her handkerchief and wonders aloud about its whereabouts. Emilia says she doesn't know where Desdemona's handkerchief could be. This is an act of deception on Emilia's part; she was the one who picked up Desdemona's handkerchief when Othello let it drop in Act III, Scene 3. After picking up Desdemona's handkerchief, Emilia takes it to Iago, who proceeds to plant it in Cassio's room. Iago's plan was to use Desdemona's handkerchief to frame Cassio.

Later, when Othello meets Desdemona and asks her to lend him her handkerchief, Desdemona tries to deceive him. First, she hands him a different handkerchief than the one for which he asks. When Othello notes she handed him the wrong handkerchief, Desdemona says she doesn't have his special handkerchief on her person. Othello isn't pleased to hear this, and he tells Desdemona the handkerchief is actually imbued with a special kind of magic, so it's important she never loses it.

Othello contends that the handkerchief was a gift from a witch to his mother and was the means by which his mother held the love of his father. So, he warns Desdemona to keep close tabs on the handkerchief. The implication is that, as long as she has that handkerchief, Othello will always love her. Upon hearing this, Desdemona becomes visibly agitated (she knows she misplaced the handkerchief and can't produce it), and this causes Othello to suspect she lost the handkerchief. The couple gets into a heated quarrel.

Desdemona tries to argue that the handkerchief is not lost, a deception on her part. Then, after continued demands from Othello, she tries to draw his attention away by speaking up on Cassio's behalf. This actually makes things worse for her, but poor Desdemona has no way of knowing this. Meanwhile, with each deflection by Desdemona, Othello becomes more and more convinced his wife is hiding an affair with Cassio, and he storms out in frustration. Now, Desdemona deceives Othello because she doesn't want to hurt his feelings. Ironically, her kind heart (which also leads her to speak up on behalf of Cassio) paves the path to her destruction.

Hope this helps!