Othello's Tragic Flaw Is His Own Feelings Of Insuperiority. Iago Manipulates Othello By Use Of This Tragic Flaw. Discuss, With Close Reference To The Text

2302 words - 10 pages

Someone manipulating your weaknesses to their advantage can often bring about your downfall, especially when you consider yourself an outsider. In William Shakespeare's play, Othello, the main character is a black moor. Although some question remains about the exact race of Othello, there is no doubt that he considered himself an outsider. Othello sometimes goes out of his way to present himself thus, but it is left to the reader to decide whether this is because he recognizes his exotic appeal or because he is self-conscious of and defensive about the differences between him and other Venetians. For example, in spite of his obvious eloquence in the first act, he protests, "Rude am I in my ...view middle of the document...

Iago informs Brabantio of Othello's secret marriage, using racial epithets such as "the moor", "the thick-lips" and "an old black ram". Iago is obviously trying to stir Brabantio into ostracizing Othello to a greater extent. Iago speaks in inflammatory terms, vulgarly telling the senator that his daughter and Othello are having sex, on their wedding night, by saying that they are "making the beast with two backs". Iago explains to the audience, and Roderigo, part of his "poison" that he hopes will lead to Othello's undoing.Were I the Moor I would not be Iago.In following him I follow but myself;Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,But seeming so for my peculiar end.For when my outward action doth demonstrateThe native act and figure of my heartIn compliment extern, 'tis not long afterBut I will wear my heart upon my sleeveFor daws to peck at. I am not what I am.In this early speech, Iago explains to Roderigo and the audience that he follows Othello not out of "love" or "duty," but because he feels he can exploit and dupe his master, thereby revenging himself upon the man to whom he feels superior. Iago shows us that he honestly believes that people who are what they seem are in fact, foolish. The day he decides to demonstrate outwardly what he feels inwardly, Iago explains, will be the day he makes himself most vulnerable: "I will wear my heart upon my sleeve ... For daws to peck at". The obvious implication is that such a day will never come. This speech is also an excellent example of Iago's cryptic and devious manner of speaking. Phrases such as "Were I the Moor I would not be Iago" and "I am not what I am" hide as much as, if not more than, they reveal to the audience. Iago can be seen as continually playing a game of deception, even with Roderigo and the audience. Iago is displayed as a sort of riddle, or a paradox. The source of Iago's power is not obvious, however, I believe that it is Iago's talent for understanding and manipulating the desires of those around him that makes him both a powerful and a compelling figure. In a later scene Iago is able to take the handkerchief from Emilia and know that he can redirect her attentions and her questions; he is able to tell Othello of the handkerchief and know that Othello will not doubt him; he is able to tell the audience, "And what's he then that says I play the villain, and know that it will laugh as though he were a clown". Though the most habitual liar, Iago inspires in all of the play's characters the trait that is most lethal to Othello: trust.Othello's status as an outsider may well be the reason he is such easy prey for Iago. Othello seems an excellent general, as he has had much experience in war and is indeed well versed in matters of state. The Senators of Venice state that they will choose Othello for their military campaign for Cypress, as "they have none other of his calibre". In a soliloquy, Iago tells us that he will frame Cassio and Desdemona as lovers to make Othello...

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