The relationship between Othello and Iago is one of the most important elements in Shakespeare’s Othello. Iago is Othello’s trusted ensign, but he betrays him by planting false evidence that Desdemona is unfaithful. Othello falls for Iago’s lies and ultimately murders Desdemona, leading to his own downfall.
The two characters have a complex history that helps to drive the plot of the play. Othello promoted Iago over another soldier, Cassio, which caused Iago to feel passed over and resentful. Iago also believes that Othello has had an affair with his wife, Emilia, which further fuels his anger.
Despite all of this, Othello continues to trust Iago and even entrusts him with delicate missions. Iago uses this trust to manipulate Othello and eventually turn him against those closest to him. The relationship between Othello and Iago is ultimately one of the tragic elements of the play.
Othello is a play that focuses on the destruction of relationships. Othello’s relationship with Iago is the central and most important relationship in the play. It is this relationship that ultimately leads to Othello’s downfall. Othello trusts Iago more than anyone else and it is this trust that Iago exploits. Iago manipulates Othello by planting seeds of doubt in his mind about Desdemona’s fidelity. Othello’s resulting jealousy destroys his relationship with Desdemona and eventually leads to her death.
Iago also has a significant impact on other relationships within the play. His manipulation of Roderigo’s feelings for Desdemona leads to Roderigo’s death. Iago’s lies also result in the death of Emilia, Othello’s loyal wife.
Iago also serves to contrast with the personalities of Othello and Desdemona, as well as to produce dramatic irony, bringing the audience into the play’s journey. His reputation for honesty, seeing things clearly, and a ruthlessly driven goal have helped him achieve success. The importance of Iago to the work is demonstrated by his position in terms of plot progression. He has forcefully guided its’ path much like a skilled puppeteer.
Othello’s first entrances are always in the midst of some sort of action that Iago has instigated. Othello, as we see is a victim of Iago’s machinations from the very beginning. Othello begins to lose his grip on reality and descends into a world of jealous rage and suspicion. Othello’s increasing lack of control is further emphasized by Iago’s successful assumption of the role of Othello’s alter ego. This is evident when Othello says to Iago, “I am your own forever.”
Iagos plan to manipulate Othello into believing that his wife Desdemona is unfaithful is successful. Othello’s tragic flaw is his overwhelming propensity for believing the worst of people. Othello fails to see that Iago is the one who is manipulating him and instead believes that Iago is his loyal friend. Othello’s tragic downfall is also a result of his own hamartia or fatal flaw. Othello’s insecurities about himself and his relationship with Desdemona make him susceptible to Iago’s manipulation.
Othello’s low self-esteem leads him to believe that he is not good enough for Desdemona and that she must have been coerced into marrying him. Othello’s lack of confidence in himself makes it easy for Iago to convince him that Desdemona is cheating on him. Othello’s tragic flaw is his insecurity and lack of self-confidence, which leads him to believe Iago’s lies and ultimately destroys his life.
We meet Othello’s jealous wife, Desdemona, as well as her equally jealous lover, Roderigo. We also come upon Iago and Roderigo early on in the play, learning of their conspiracy to undermine Othello. With a masterful stroke, Iago silences Roderigo and establishes the initial plot -Iago plans to take back his rightful position as lieutenant by destroying Othello and Casio. “I am worth no worse a place than that which you set for me. ” Despite the fact that Iago’s plan does not shift throughout the play, his intentions, which clearly affect his actions, do change.
Iago’s relationship with Othello is a strange one. It seems that Iago hates Othello but also needs him for his plan to work. He knows Othello too well and uses this knowledge to exploit the Moor’s weaknesses- Othello’s love for Desdemona, his fear of being cuckolded, his racial insecurity and his naiveté. Othello unknowingly provides Iago with the ammunition he needs to destroy him.
It is significant that Othello falls into Iago’s trap so easily as it suggests Othello’s gullibility and lack of perception. “O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; /It is the green-ey’d monster, which doth mock /The meat it feeds on.” Othello is warned about jealousy but does not heed the advice.
Iago is successful in his plot as he is able to manipulate Othello into believing that his own wife is unfaithful. Othello’s Othello’s love for Desdemona and Iago’s knowledge of this make Othello an easy target for Iago’s manipulation. He knows that if he can make Othello believe that Desdemona is unfaithful, Othello will be consumed by jealousy and will ultimately destroy himself.
At the end of Act I, Othello believes his wife is sleeping with another man. As he tells Brabantio, “Here we’ll make our exchange.” To ensure that she gets pregnant as soon as possible, Iago convinces him to have sex while waking up (something they had already done in their marriage on the previous night). By sunrise, Desdemona gives birth to a daughter named Emilia while Cassio informs Othello of her death.
Iago is a master of manipulation. Othello’s fatal flaw is his ‘free and open nature’. Iago uses this to his advantage, since Othello is ‘not of an age, but for all time’. Othello is ‘easily jealous’.
Iago’s successful manipulation of Othello can be attributed to several factors. First, Iago is very good at reading people and understanding their weaknesses. He quickly realized that Othello was susceptible to jealousy and used that knowledge to his advantage. Second, Iago is incredibly patient and willing to wait for the perfect opportunity to strike.
He bides his time until Othello is in a vulnerable state before introducing the false evidence that leads to Othello’s downfall. Finally, Iago is incredibly persistent and even when his plan starts to unravel, he doesn’t give up. He continues to push forward in spite of the danger he knows he’s in.
All of these factors combine to make Iago a very successful manipulator of Othello. Othello’s fatal flaw is his trustfulness and openness, which Iago uses against him. Othello is easily led astray by jealousy, and Iago takes advantage of that by feeding Othello false information that leads to his demise.
Iago’s role in the play is further demonstrated by his importance (in terms of comparison to other characters) for the production. Iago outweighs every other character in terms of stage time, with soliloquies and the like being the most significant exception. He makes Roderigo appear foolish. He has comparable success with Cassio and Othello. Both of these individuals turn to him for ‘free advise.’ Even when he is not on stage, he is still spoken about favorably – ‘that he is honest.’ Shakespeare does not allow Iago’s presence to be overshadowed.
Othello is shown as a gullible, paranoid and very trusting character. Iago calls Othello a ‘black ram’ that tupped Desdemona- meaning Othello is an animal controlled by his sexual desires. Othello is also said to be easily manipulated: ‘For when my outward action doth demonstrate/ The native act and figure of my heart/ In compliment extern, ‘tis not long after/ But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve/ For daws to peck at’. Othello is therefore, in Iago’s opinion, too trusting and open with his feelings. This makes him easy to control and manipulate.
Iago is thus clearly demonstrating his passion-driven dominance throughout the play. He will go to any length to destroy Othello’s goodness. His soliloquies allow him to expose the qualities of other characters as well. He so immediately asserts that Othello is a “free and open person.” This contrast with any other character – they all have issues with human nature. Even though Iago is frequently referred to as “honest,” he isn’t. Othello can’t refute Iago’s simple claim that Desdemona “should be false.”
Othello is so easily consumed by jealousy, and it becomes his ‘green-eyed monster’. Othello has no solid evidence that Iago is speaking the truth, but he allows his mind to be poisoned. Othello’s state of mind rapidly deteriorates as he starts to believe Iago’s lies.
This can be shown when Othello says ‘I will see before I doubt; when I doubt, prove; And on the proof, there is no more but this, Away at once with love or jealousy!’ Othello is so consumed by what Iago has told him; he does not want to hear any more. Othello believes that if he hears anymore, it will only be more convincing lies. Othello’s tragic flaw is his gullibility, and Iago takes full advantage of that. Othello is not the only character that Iago deceives.
Emilia is Othello’s wife, and Iago’s partner-in-crime. She is unaware of the plan to destroy Othello, but she does know that her husband constantly suspects Desdemona of cheating. Emilia often tries to reason with Othello, telling him that it is natural for a woman to have a wandering eye. She says ‘Women are light at midnight: men may construe things/ After their fashion, clean from the purpose of the things themselves.