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Iago in Othello

In Shakespeare's "Othello", Iago carefully and masterfully entraps Othello into believing that his wife, Desdemona, is having an affair with Cassio. He does this through a series of suggestions and hesitations that entice and implant images in Othello's head that lead him to his demise. But what is more important is, he gives Othello the motive to murder his own innocent Desdemona, satisfying Iago's immense appetite for revenge.

The motive for Iago's devious plan is initially made clear in the first of Iago's three major soliloquies, in which he proclaims Othello has had an affair with his wife, Emila. "And it is thought abroad that 'twist my sheets he's done my office." The irony behind this line is that he then says, "I know not if't be true, but I, for mere suspicion in that kind, will do as if for surety." The impression this gave me after reading the complete text was that Iago is so exceedingly paranoid and insane that he will go as far as murdering, and deluding even a General into murdering his wife!

Iago simultaneously conducts an equally devious plan to obtain Cassio's position as lieutenant, using Desdemona's prime weakness, her naivety. He disgraces Cassio by getting him drunk so that he strikes Roderigo. Othello then discharges Cassio when he says, "I love thee; but nevermore be officer of mine." How must poor Cassio have felt? To lose all he had worked for, burning gallons of mid-night oil, working up his reputation that any half-hearted human can tell he deserved. It was therefore understandable that he would fall to the mercy of Iago completely oblivious to the inevitable effects. Iago reveals his plan to the reader in his third soliloquy where he states, "His soul is so enfettered to her love, that she may make, unmake, do what she list, even as her appetite shall play the god with his weak function...And she for him pleads strongly to the Moor, I'll pour this pestilence into his ear, that she repeals him for he...

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