Othello Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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To what extent can Lago be held responsible for the tragic outcome of Othello?

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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While the tragic outcome in Othello could be said to be attributable to the actions of Othello himself, Iago is clearly responsible for setting into motion the chain of events that lead to the tragedy.  Othello has tragic flaws, to be sure, his insecurity in love and his jealosy.  But Iago is one of the most evil and manipulative characters in literature, and he deliberately destroys Othello and Desdemona by poisoning Othello's mind. We can see that this is deliberate on his part because he makes clear when Othello is not present that he intends to cause him grief.  His stated motive is that he was passed over for a promotion, but many readers and viewers see this as a rather flimsy reason to ruin someone's life. What do you think?

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