Iago's Flaws In Othello

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In the 16th century, as in all time periods, reputation reigns supreme. Men become infatuated by the concept of honor and power. Once these traits are gained, the men are dragged by association into a life where losing reputation is their biggest fear. Due to this lust of prestige, their rationality begins to fail as they do anything to defend the perception of their honor. This ubiquitous pitfall of mankind is illuminated in the play Othello by Shakespeare. In the play, the author seemingly juxtaposes both Othello and his nemesis, Iago. However, upon closer inspection, Othello and Iago suffer from similar flaws. Iago, using his knowledge of his own flaws-- jealousy and vengeance--, exploits Othello’s need for reputation, ultimately ruining…show more content…
In the face of trouble, he states “Not I, I must be found. / My parts, my title, and my perfect soul / Shall manifest me rightly.” (Shakespeare, 1.2.31-33) He indulges the accusations of Desdemona’s father, belting a proud speech about his honest, true love, knowing that he will reap respect upon professing it. His honest courtship combined with Desdemona’s undying affection fulfills his ideal relationship. Subliminally, Othello loves Desdemona because of her status and the fact that she loves, and has only ever loved Othello. “I’ll pour this pestilence into [Othello’s] ear: / That [Desdemona] repeals him for her body’s lust” exclaims Iago diabolically (2.3.265-6). He knows that a corruption of this pure and honorable relationship will ruin Othello, just as Othello’s supposed affair with Emilia affects Iago. As Eastman states, “Iago, we might say, is able to find his way to Othello's heart by looking within his own” (Eastman). Accessing knowledge of his own humanity, Iago assumes Othello’s negative reaction to his gossip. Later on, Othello responds exactly as Iago expects, nullifying the supposed love he…show more content…
In the same way that Iago views his manipulative retaliation as correct, Othello believes all of his convictions are correct. This is exemplified when Othello states “Exchange me for a goat / When I shall turn the business of my soul / To such exsufflicate and blowed surmises, / Matching thy inference” (Shakespeare, 3.3.185-88). Once this burden of proof has been lifted by Iago, Othello will succumb to the jealousy he is beginning to feel. Iago fulfills this requirement of evidence with an impromptu story that carries no real significance. Despite this, Othello is convinced. “Why did I marry?” Othello asks himself (3.3.248). Manipulating through a false reluctance to speak, Iago causes Othello to think “[t]his honest creature doubtless / Sees and knows more, much more, than he unfolds” (3.3.248-9). This is a twist on a common lying technique. The “consequences can be great” of this “trickster’s lie,” and it is used to achieve “deliberate dissent” (Furnham). With this in mind, Iago’s ease of manipulation is not surprising. Iago has figured out how Othello functions, and has rightly concluded that he will respond as strongly to the thought of adultery as Iago himself--despite the irrationality. Therefore, after successfully convincing Othello in this instance, Iago has won; Othello fully believes in his

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