To what extent is manipulation central to the play "Othello" as a whole?Please answer fully, with explanation. Appreciate answers. ^^

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

From the onset of the play, Iago--perhaps Shakespeare's greatest villain--manipulates under cover of night.  His first victim is Roderigo, who is love with Desdemona.  Iago has Roderigo awaken Desdomona's father, revealing her elopement to the Moor.  Using animal imagery, Iago feeds lines to Roderigo that play upon a father's worst fears: her white daughter is being seduced by a black man ("the Black Ram is tupping your White Ewe.")  Iago nearly gets the Duke to annul the marriage, but Othello's words convince the Duke to allow it.  So, in Act I, the "race card" that Iago plays to manipulate her father backfires: round one goes to  Othello.

In Acts II-III, once in Cypress, Iago decides to play the "jealousy" card to manipulate Othello, with great success.  He uses Roderigo again to bait Michael Cassio into getting drunk, picking a fight, and conferencing with Desdemona into getting back into Othello's good graces.  Then, Iago plays on Othello's fears of jealousy, convincing him that Desdemona prefers the younger, white Cassio to the older Moor. 

Iago even manipulates his wife into stealing Desdemona's handkerchief, a symbol of Othello's heritage and love for his wife.  In the end, after Othello murders his bride, Iago ironically, goes silent, having spoken ad nauseum during the play (he has more lines than Othello), refusing to feeling guilty for his manipulation and deceit.  He relishes his role as villain out of spite.