Iago’s Scheming in Shakespeare's Othello Essay

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Iago’s Scheming in Othello

Iago is a powerful predator who exploits those around him by infecting their perceptions of truth with carefully chosen fallacy. His skill in finding the proverbial chinks in others' armor allows him to skillfully weave his machinations of destroying Othello into their minds and actions; by manipulating character's perceptions of Desdemona, Iago gains the leverage he needs to exploit each character. No one is impervious to Iago's seething purpose; even Othello falls prey to Iago's suggestions and insinuations about Desdemona. Iago's constant presence as the stager, as well as his ceaseless - but subtle - reinforcement of events through narration, allows him to be the pivotal force that directs
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Othello, not knowing that Cassio was in fact speaking with Desdemona in hopes of being reinstated as Lieutenant, mistakenly believes that the two are having an affair and that Desdemona has lost her chastity. Iago skillfully capitalizes on the situation by developing his attack further: "She did deceive her father, marrying you" (3.3.220). Othello begins to see Iago's reasoning: if she could deceive her father, she could just as easily deceive her new husband. Once Othello's bliss has been decimated, Iago concentrates on weakening Othello's perception of himself; Iago very carefully and very tactfully chooses words and metaphors that subconsciously pit Othello against the Venetians. Othello begins to perceive himself as an outsider in his own country, "a malignant and turbaned Turk" (5.2.365). A fruitful marriage with a Venetian woman becomes out of the question in Othello's mind. Iago's successful manipulation takes a self-confidant man and reduces him to one at ends with himself and with the woman he loved.

Iago's omnipresence is vital to his success; only when present in a scene is he able to manipulate the characters and, more importantly, interpret the scenes for the benefit of those witnessing the events. In the first scene of the fifth act, after killing Roderigo and after Cassio passes out, Iago senses the chance to engage in a bit of creative staging. Iago, left uncontested,
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