Duality And Paradoxes In Othello

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In William Shakespeare’s play, Othello, he uses duality and paradoxes to reveal parts of human nature that people wish to ignore. Othello is about a man named Othello who marries above his station and wrestles with his insecurities as the antagonist, Iago, uses them and his own reputation for candor as mean to enact his revenge for Othello’s alleged affair with his wife, Emelia. Iago embodies the paradox of a truthful man who uses his honesty to manipulate people, which contradicts a core human idea that honest people are the most righteous or virtuous.
Iago earns his reputation for trustworthiness by being honest in the face of consequences and when it suits his own gain. In a moment of extreme honesty to the person he intends to use to enact his revenge, Iago responds to Desdemona’s question of what he thinks of women by
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Speaking to the wife of his commanding officer, Iago is remarkably blunt by saying that women are only good for is sex and that is their “work” in the face of consequences such as being fired or demoted, which, to him, would be the ultimate disgrace. Continuing his unfiltered conversation with Desdemona, Iago replies Desdemona’s request for him to declare what he thinks of her by answering, “O, gentle lady, do not put me to ‘t,/For I am nothing if not critical,” (II.I.133-134). By replying “do not put me to ‘t,” he reveals that he will answer truthful regardless of her feelings because he is “nothing if not critical.” In this moment, Iago embodies the virtuous man, but not necessarily in a typical way. While he is brutally honest about how he feels about her, he warns her that he is “nothing if not critical,” which would characteristically come from a protagonist or at least a supporting character, but this level of openness would almost never
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