In Act 1 of Othello, how does Iago use persuasion to scheme against Othello?

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In the opening scene of the play, Iago expresses his contempt and hatred toward Othello for offering the revered lieutenant position to the inexperienced Florentine, Michael Cassio. Iago feels disrespected and begins to formulate a plan to get revenge on Othello. Initially, Iago manipulates the ignorant, lovesick Roderigo and uses him as a pawn to fulfill his malevolent plan. Iago is aware that Roderigo admires Desdemona and manipulates him into funding his schemes by convincing him that he can win Desdemona's heart back. At the beginning of the play, Iago instructs Roderigo to inform Brabantio that his daughter has eloped with Othello.

Iago recognizes that Brabantio will be appalled by his daughter's actions as a result of his racial prejudice and hopes that Brabantio will use his political influence to punish Othello. Iago proceeds to manipulate Brabantio by comparing Othello to an "old black ram," referring to him as the devil, and inciting Brabantio's rage by commenting on Othello's race. Iago hopes that Brabantio will intervene in his daughter's relationship and annul her marriage.

While Iago is plotting Othello's downfall by pitting Brabantio and Roderigo against him, he displays his duplicitous nature in scene 2 by pretending to defend Othello. Iago lies to Othello by saying that he was tempted to stab Brabantio for speaking disrespectfully about him and depicts himself as one of Othello's loyal supporters. As the play progresses, Iago continues to manipulate others to his own advantage while pretending to be an honest man with integrity.

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Iago ruthlessly exploits each man's weaknesses to get what he wants. The foolish young aristocrat Roderigo is head over heels in love with Desdemona, and Iago claims that he can clear a path for him so that he can have his wicked way with her. All he needs is for the young rake to open his purse and—voila!—he will make it happen. Iago has no intention of pairing up Roderigo with Desdemona, of course; he simply sees a great opportunity to sow discord and use the hapless dupe as an instrument in his sordid scheme to destroy Othello.

Brabantio is enraged that his only daughter has run off with Othello, or the "Moor." Once again, Iago seizes his opportunity to pour oil on troubled waters. He plays upon Brabantio's sense of honor as a senator and as a father by describing in pretty sordid detail just what Othello and Desdemona are up to on their wedding night. In his exchange with Brabantio, Iago exploits the prevailing racial prejudice to portray Othello as something bestial, dark, and primitive. No wonder Brabantio thinks that Othello's been using magic to seduce his daughter.

As for Othello himself, Iago puts on a public show of loyalty. This shows us straight away what a two-faced hypocrite he really is. All the while he's been whipping up Roderigo and Brabantio against the "Moor," and yet in front of his master, he's all sweetness and light, lulling him into a false sense of security with his pubic display of deference.

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Look at Act 1 Scene 3, after close-reading it and the summary. After Desdemona's wish is granted, Roderigo is despairing,feeling he has lost her for ever. Iago sees this and ever-observant and waiting to pounce sees the weaknesses and motivations of the others too. He becomes excited as a plan is sparked - he shares his evil manipulations in his speech at the end of the Act so examine that line by line and use some quotes:

He fills Roderigo with false hopes 'put money in thy purse' (cheer up, get ready to be rich and happy-your fortunes are about to change)

'thou shalt enjoy her'

'Let us be conjunctive in our hate against him'

'thine hast no less reason'

and 'private'

'thus do I ever make my fool my purse'

'Cassio's a proper man: let me see now to get his place.....'

and about Othello - it will be easy to manipulate him and

have him 'led by the nose as asses are' by putting pressure on his suggestible nature.

Why are they all so blind? Previous question about this below:


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In Act 1, Iago uses different forms of manipulation with each character so that he can advance his scheme to bring down Othello and Cassio.

Roderigo: Iago knows that Roderigo is controlled by his emotions and, therefore, not a logical thinker.  He first "pinpoints the enemy" with Roderigo by telling him that Othello has just eloped with Roderigo's love interest Desdemona.  After painting Othello as an unequal match for the fair heroine, Iago stirs up Roderigo's anger toward the Moor and convinces him to awaken Brabantio to tell him that his daughter is gone.

Brabantio: With Brabantio, Iago also pinpoints the enemy by describing Othello, who has run off with Brabantio's only child, in unflattering animalistic terms.  Iago's diction is also carefully chosen to inflame Brabantio's feelings toward Othello.  He refers to Othello's skin color and other stereotypes from his day to remind Brabantio how others will view Desdemona's running off with the Moor.

Othello: With Othello, Iago panders to his every move.  He puts on a completely different face and appears to be a loyal and honest confidant for the general.  His most effective means of persuading Othello to trust him is simplyhis appearing to show respect to his leader. He strokes Othello's pride by reassuring him that the Duke and Senate will not hold his marriage to Desdemona against him because of his great skill and reputation with them.

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