Essay analyzing the role of deceptiveness in the play, as seen through the action of the primary characters: Othello, Iago, and Desdemona. Othello is, at heart, a play about deception, and the psychological turmoil and mental suffering it can cause. Although Iago appropriately shows all that is evil through his malicious manipulation of others, he is not the only practitioner of deception in the play. Othello himself can likewise be considered as a research study in deception, albeit of a lot more subtle range than that of the gleefully fiendish Iago; for Othello participates in self-deception– less apparent, but eventually just as destructive.
Certainly, the only character above reproach is the guileless Desdemona; enmeshed in a web of steel through the deception of others, she nonetheless continues in her sweetly innocent method, ultimately attaining a brave stature through her rejection, in sharp juxtaposition to Othello and Iago, to blame others for her suffering. Othello is an outsider in Venetian society. He is a black man amongst white men, and a soldier amongst civilians. To the Venetians, he is merely’ the Moor’ (I, iii,47), a description that nicely encapsulates his state as a foreigner.
The term is indelibly related to unfavorable racial connotations– Iago describes Othello as’ an old black ram’ (I, i,88) and’ the devil’ (I, i,91), while Rodrigo calls him’ gross’ and ‘lascivious’ (I, i,126). Othello, while unaware of the slanders of Iago, is only too familiar with his precious position in the Venetian class structure. For this reason, he produces for himself a new identity, a new sense of self that goes beyond the one-dimensionality of ‘the Moor’.
He can not alter his origins– although as he lets Iago understand (I,ii,19-24) he is descended from ‘men of royal siege’– however he can fill his persona with something distinctively Othello, to lose the unfavorable connotations of ‘the Moor’ and produce for himself an unique identity. He tries this in his wooing of Desdemona– his brand-new identity is the’ story of (his) life’ (I, iii,129), and it is so intensely moving and personal that Desdemona is mesmerized.
Paradoxically, there is a sense that Othello feels threatened by Desdemona’s enthusiasm: she would ‘listen with a greedy ear’ to devour (his)discourse'(I, iii,150), and Othello feels obliged to create much more fantastical tales: ‘of the cannibals that each other eat,/ the Anthropophagi, and guys whose heads/ do grow beneath their shoulders’ (I,iii,143-145). Othello’s attempt to break the shackles of being ‘the Moor’ has actually led to the building of an intricate exterior of self-deception; he has actually built a new identity, but one rather removed from the flesh-and-bone Othello.
This dissonance appears if we compare his proposed ’round unvarnish ‘d tale’ (I, iii,90) with the intricate travelogue he finally delivers in lines 128-170. He is insistently self-dramatising, however curiously unpredictable of his true worth; and it is this unpredictability that enables Iago to breed the ‘green-eyed monster’ of jealousy in his mind. Iago is a master of deception. He appears frank and sincere to all the other characters and it is just to the audience that he exposes his inner thoughts. Roderigo understands a few of what Iago plans, and apparently why he plans it; however his knowledge is kept restricted by Iago.
Iago works through subtle hints and allusions, and exploits his ‘sincere’ credibility ruthlessly. Nevertheless, even the apparently cocksure Iago is not unsusceptible to the ‘monster’ of jealousy; indeed, he too is contaminated by it ‘like a toxic mineral’ (II, i,292). Unlike Othello, nevertheless, Iago acknowledges his infection and the impact it has on himself. He does not misguide himself about what he is, or what he plans to achieve. Ultimately, his strange brand name of evil comes to absolutely nothing, his plans damaged by the unforseen nerve of his partner Emilia.
His deception turns back on him and he is exposed as the petty male he is. The malevolence is still there, but the grand scale of evil is lowered to the flailing of an embittered person. On another level, the play deals with the deceptiveness of the senses– both of sight and sound. Othello needs from Iago ‘ocular proof’ (III, iii,366) of his partner’s adultery, but his vision, damaged by the ‘green-ey ‘d monster’ (III, iii,170), is pleased by mere ‘imputation and strong scenario'(III, iii,412).
Iago’s hoax in persuading Othello that his discussion with Cassio (followed by the fortuitous arrival of Bianca) in IV, i, 97-157 issues the seduction of Desdemona, illustrates the extent to which Othello’s senses have actually been misguided and corrupted. Othello eavesdrops over the discussion in between Iago and Cassio, but interprets the words to fit the state of his infected mind: ‘Do you accomplishment, Roman? Do you accomplishment?’ (IV, i,118). He can not see or hear for himself, and should depend on the false information ‘fed’ to him.
And this takes place quickly after his body has actually been lowered to the fit (IV, i,43) in which all his senses are puzzled and jangled. Indeed, his greatest worry has been physically understood: ‘perdition capture my soul/But I do love thee, and when I like thee not/Chaos is come again.’ (III,iii,91-93) When Emilia vouches steadfastly for her mistress’ chastity, the poison in Othello’s ears dismisses her evidence as the ignorance of a’ easy bawd’ (IV, ii,20). The ultimate deception happens in the soft, sluggish death scene of Desdemona.
Othello is naturally drawn towards Desdemona’s beauty, however in a perverse self-delusion, pertains to see himself as a personification of ‘justice’, eliminating Desdemona ‘else she’ll betray more men’ (V, ii,6). Iago’s slanders have actually poisoned Othello’s senses, and the evil of the deception results in the catastrophe of Desdemona’s death. If Iago is a portrait of evil, then Desdemona needs to be the conclusive embodiment of chaste appeal. She abandons pals, household and wealth in Venice to spend her life with the guy to whom she ‘consecrated’ her ‘soul and fortunes'(I, iii,254).
She loves Othello with all her mind, body and soul. Regardless of Othello’s worries, she loves him, not an exotic image of the ‘lavish and wheeling stranger of here and all over’ since she declares that she ‘saw Othello’s visage in his mind’ (I, iii,252). She is innocent, and totally without sophistication, and ultimately, a pawn to be exploited in Iago’s compulsive strategies. She bears all her tribulations with meekness, patience and without complaint, and remains dedicated to her partner even as she passes away: ‘Applaud me to my kind Lord, O farewell!’ (V, ii,126).
She, alone, of all the characters, eschews intrigue and deception; her life is as pure and sincere as her love for Othello. Some though, will take the side of Brabantio and see her treachery to him and his family. She does after all, trick her dad (I, iii,293), and elopes, escorted just by ‘a knave of common hire’ (I, i,125) to the arms of her cherished Othello; and there has been no notion of the love fit Othello has actually pursued within Brabantio’s own house. It is, perhaps, the weak point in Desdemona’s character, but it might be excused by the overwhelming power of her love for Othello.