Betrayal as a Providing Theme in Othello

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Betrayal can be seen and done for many reasons, but often there is no real reason why someone would betray another human being. This proves to be the case in Shakespeare’s Othello, where one of Othello’s most trusted men, Iago betrayed him after being filled with rage and jealousy of not receiving the recognition he solely thought he deserved. Iago becomes both Othello’s friend and worst enemy throughout the whole play in order to destroy him and his reputation while ensuring the downfall of everyone so he can finally get what he wants.

In the beginning, Iago has found out that Othello has given the title of lieutenant to Cassio. This is when the jealousy and rage fill Iago as he feels he deserved that title. All this anger that was built inside Iago made him come up with a plan to betray Othello and ruin both his and lieutenant Cassio's reputation. Iago believes that just destroying Othello will not be enough to cause Othello significant pain. He intends to push Othello to his limits in order for him to commit an evil act that would be unforgivable which is what he means when he says, “ A jealousy so strong that judgment cannot cure.”(II.i.295-296). Iago intends to lie to Othello and tricking him into believing that his lieutenant Cassio has been having an affair with his wife Desdemona to start a spark of jealousy in Othello which will, later on, turn Othello mad resulting in horrific acts and Iago becoming the new lieutenant.

As the play goes on, Iago is able to manipulate both Cassio and Emilia into betraying one another so that his plan can go through with betraying Othello. For Instance, when Cassio is stripped from his title after getting into a brawl while being drunk, Iago informs him to get really close to Desdemona as she can be the one who can help him regain his title by taking his side when talking to Othello. It is Iago’s intention to use any opportunity he has to make Othello doubt his friends and wife to be able to trust Iago. For example, even though Othello knows deep down in his heart that Desdemona would not betray him, for she is the one who fell in love with him. Othello has been manipulated so much by Iago that all these thoughts soon abandon Othello’s mind. Although this is just Iago's plan to ruin and destroy Othello. Othello still considers Iago to be one of his closest friend. Iago soon uses this trust that was gained to turn Othello into a man that is nothing better than himself.

By the end of the play, all Characters have lost their loyalty to each other from what Iago has done to make them feel betrayed. Iago’s plan to ensure everyone's downfall has taken a wrong turn as Desdemona is killed by Othello and Iago is left to kill his wife Emilia as she reveals to Othello that Desdemona has been falsely accused. Othello can hardly believe what he has done and kills himself rather than living with the guilt of killing his innocent wife Desdemona. Iago decides to escape but is soon caught and turned in for judgment.

All in all, through his betrayal, Iago destroys the lives of innocent people in order to ruin Othello's reputation and better his own to be able to receive what he wants. Iago’s reign is short-lived as his selfishness causes his plan to take a toll on him causing Iago to captured. Betrayal should never be an option for revenge.

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Betrayal As A Providing Theme In Othello. (2019, Jul 30). Retrieved April 13, 2024 , from

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