In the play Othello the downfall of every character all roots from betrayal from one person or another. Iago happens to be the one who betrays everyone he knows just to get revenge and get what he wants in the long run. In the play he betrayed Rodrigo, Othello, and Cassio. From getting into heads of people to sabotaging them he used various ways to do so to lead to every character’s downfall. Some may have been worse than others but all in all he was the main cause of it with his sneaky betrayal skills. The main idea William Shakespeare is trying to get across is don’t believe everything you hear because it can lead to something you can regret.
One of the main characters Iago targeted was Othello. Othello as the general of the Venetian army there is a lot to want and be envious for. Since Othello was the general in the army therefore, he makes the decisions of the military positions. Early in the play Iago tells us that he has made Cassio the lieutenant in the army. Iago is furious about this since Cassio has no battle experience unlike himself with plenty of it. If it weren’t for this decision by Othello, he would have never targeted anyone from the beginning of the play. But since he did, this made Othello’s life a lot harder than it had to be. With Cassio as the main target on his list he found a way to destroy him without doing the dirty work.
With Desdemona, Othello’s new wedded wife he was able to make it seem as if she was cheating on him. He was able to find all sorts of ways to make it seem as if he had hard evidence to show she was cheating. Iago was very clever because everything he did led to the ultimate downfall of Othello and even Desdemona. Iago persuaded Othello to believe him so well that he killed Desdemona, so she wouldn’t hurt anyone else like she hurt him. When he murders Desdemona, he no longer has the assurance of being loved but, under pressure of alert instinct, he has provided himself with new assurance. (Heilman) He then found out by Desdemona’s friend Emilia, that she was with her the whole time and that she couldn’t have cheated with Cassio. Othello then realized that he was betrayed and made a fool of by Iago. Once he found out he couldn’t live with himself knowing he killed his truly innocent wife. He then killed Iago and himself later. This resulted in Othello’s ultimate downfall caused by lies planted by Iago throughout the play.
Rodrigo had his downfall due to Iago’s betrayal just like Othello. But unlike Othello, Rodrigo wasn’t an intended target. Rodrigo was being used by Iago throughout the whole play without him knowing until the very end. Toward the beginning of the play Rodrigo was devastated because Othello married his love Desdemona. Iago talked to him about working together to take down Cassio and then he will help him get Desdemona to love him. Iago gave Rodrigo all types of advice such as selling everything and keeping his focus at the task at hand by listening to Iago. Iago used Rodrigo to do his dirty work for him. Iago made him get into a fight with Cassio while he was drunk to get him in trouble and make him look unprofessional. Iago also said to buy Desdemona gifts and give it to Iago to give to her. Instead Iago took the money and gifts for himself. This is when Rodrigo got a little suspicious since Desdemona wasn’t send anything back. But another thing Iago told him to do was to kill Cassio for him since it was part of a deal with Othello. Rodrigo eventually attempted to do just that and kill Cassio. He failed horribly and with his failure came his ultimate death. Rodrigo is stabbed by Iago and that’s when he realized the villain was Iago not Othello or Cassio. But it was too late for Rodrigo to full see Iago’s lies until his death.
The last character that was betrayed by Iago’s lies in the play was Cassio the new lieutenant of the Venetian army. Iago was always jealous of Cassio throughout the whole play because of his rank that he supposedly didn’t deserve. To get Cassio’s job Iago had to find a way to get Othello to get rid of his position. The first step of that is to take advantage of Cassio’s problematic drinking issue. Cassio knows he has a drinking problem, but Iago finds a way to get him to drink some type of alcohol. Iago sweet talked his way into becoming one of Cassio’s friends. In doing so he told Rodrigo to fight Cassio while he was drunk to make him seem unprofessional and unfit for the job. Cassio was injured as well as the Duke of Cyprus. This forced Othello to take away Cassio’s job as lieutenant. When that happened, he made Iago in charge of everyone for the time being. Iago told Cassio to talk to Othello’s wife Desdemona to get through to him to get his job as lieutenant back. That’s when Iago sought the opportunity to keep the lieutenant job and frame Cassio about having an affair with Desdemona. He used mind tactics on Othello inferring that he thought that they were having an affair. This got Othello mad which would obviously not get Cassio’s job back. Eventually this gave the desire for Othello to end Cassio’s life as well as Desdemona’s for having the affair. With that intention Iago made a deal with Othello saying that Iago will kill Cassio and Othello will kill Desdemona to end the affair that supposedly said to be going on. But instead of Iago killing Cassio he sent Rodrigo to do it so he didn’t have to get his hands dirty. Rodrigo failed and the plan that Iago and Othello had was ruined. Cassio didn’t suffer a full dramatic downfall, but he did suffer without a job and a couple wounds until everything was cleared up and he became the commander of the army after Othello committed suicide.
To conclude, Iago’s lies, and all his betrayals led to all the main characters ultimate downfall or less of a dramatic downfall. Shakespeare shows that not everything that comes out of people’s mouths is in fact true. He uses the literary element of dramatic irony to really portray this. The characters unknowingly await their demise when the audience can clearly see what Iago is doing. Iago manipulates the characters into maniacs and cause chaos to bring down most of his intended enemies.
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