William Shakespeare on Othello Literary Analysis

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In the play Othello, written by William Shakespeare, it’s evident how one can manipulate a person to fulfill their own personal agenda. In this play, Othello's trusted advisor Iago fools him in to murdering his beloved desdemona. He achieves this by lying to him constantly eventually tricking him to believe his wife is a cheat and a fake. By the end of play it can be debated by the audience whether or not Othello was in the wrong by murdering his beloved wife.

At the beginning of the play Othello has everything going for him and is portrayed to the audience as a good man who worked for his position as general of the venetian army and also scored the women of his dreams in Desdemona. He has his whole life planned out and is ready to take on his role as a leader to the people. Iago comes into the play as a worker and advisor to the general Othello. He is still sour about being passed over for the position of lieutenant to cassio and is only there to serve himself. To start off Iago, is aware that desdemona's father (brabantio) would not be happy with his daughter marrying Othello (a Moor). Iago informs brabantio of this and the duke becomes infuriated and moves othello to cyprus. “This is Venice. My house is not a grange.” (1.1.119) In An act to proclaim her love, Desdemona travels with othello in his move to cyprus. In this stage of this book, othello is loved by everyone and it seems as if he has everything set up and has no one who stands against him.

As the play moves on, Othello begins to fall into Iago's trap constantly. He listens to all of Iago's lies and deception that is poured in becauses he still believes that Iago is his trusty and faithful advisor. “As honest as I am” (Iago) (2.1.199-201) One of Iago's first sneaky actions is to get othello's lieutenant drunk to commit something he wouldn't usually do sober. So Iago convinces cassio to have a couple drinks and loosen up a little. While this is going on cassio gets into a scuffle with the former governor of cyprus, resulting in cassio stabbing him. Othello reacts to this by stripping cassio of his title and loses a lot of trust in Cassios’ credibility. Cassio is embarrassed of his actions and becomes very vulnerable for Iago to spread his lies and deceit. He advises cassio to talk to desdemona in private to explain the situation to justify his actions, which will fall perfectly into Iago's hands. Iago has been feeding lies to othello throughout the play that desdemona is secretly in love with cassio and they are in an affair together. “I lay with Cassio lately…I heard him say ‘sweet Desdemona let us be wary, let us hide our loves’” (3.3.413) Othello starts to question the legitimacy of his marriage and slowly becomes enraged with desdemona's supposed “actions”. The audience sees all that has been going on behind the scenes and feels sorry for othello, after all he has no idea what actually is happening.

Towards the end of the story, Iago's plan has almost come full circle as Othello's has become extremely suspicious of Desdemona actions and he watches her very carefully. Why, why is this? Think'st thou I'd make a life of jealousy, To follow still the changes of the moon With fresh suspicions? No. To be once in doubt Is once to be resolved. (3.3 207-215)

Iago knows that he is just one deciding moment that will lead to him acting in anger possibly killing his own wife. In Iago's final action, he gets bianca to steal the special handkerchief that Othello has given to Desdemona. He then plants this evidence with Cassio after he has slept with Bianca. Othello notices Cassio with this handkerchief and becomes enraged. He challenges desdemona to show him the handkerchief but she truly believes that she has misplaced it. Othello is thrown into a state of anger and distrust as he believes that he has caught desdemona in the act of it all. Iago runs swiftly to “aid” othello in this time of turmoil offering his loyal advise he has been given all long. Othello at first asks that Iago finds someone to do the deed by killing her in the night by stabbing or whatever means necessary. Iago then recommends that he chokes her out instead because then he will truly be able to see it in her eyes that she has been lying all along. From iago's point of view, the people will all know that it was othello that has killed her and he is caught in the act. Othello then ,acting as he feels necessary, goes to Desdemona's room as she is settling down to go to bed. He is convinced that she is a dishonest cheat and he kills her.

“Desdemona: O, banish me, my lord, but kill me not!

Othello: Down, Strumpet!”(5.2.78-79).

Othello still does not know that this was Iago's whole plan and truly believes he has done desdemona a favor so that she doesn't continue to cheat with other men.

Othello is blinded by Iago the entire play and the readers sympathize with Othello because he truly did not know what was going on behind the scenes. Even though othello could have approached the situation differently and his head wasn't really screwed on, it is still easy to feel bad for the guy because he really just wanted to mind his own business but fell into Iago's world which ultimately cost his and his wife's life. 

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William Shakespeare on Othello Literary Analysis. (2021, Jul 27). Retrieved December 4, 2023 , from

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