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Hidden Meaning of Shakespeare’s Othello

The play Othello is a tale of jealousy, revenge, and deception. Iago, a disgruntled military officer, in a quest for revenge against Othello, lies, cheats, and bullys everyone around in order to get what he wants. He uses Roderigo, Brabantio, and just about every other character in the play to attain his goal of ruining Othello. This summary is what the play might seem like to the unseeing eye, but to the indepth and trained reader there is more to the story then first appears.

To truly understand Othello, or any play for that matter, you have to think about what happened before the play that brought about the situations you read. You have to think about the relationships that existed betweeen all the characters. You have to imagine Roderigos passion for Desdemona, picture Brabantios contempt for Othello, envision the jealousy and distrust that existed between Desdemona and Othello before Iago arrived on the scene. All of those factors were there before Iago put his scheme into action, he didnÕt create the natural tension between all the players. He merely made all of those already dangerous relationships fatal. IÕm not saying that Iago was not at fault in Othello, IÕm just saying that he didnÕt create the scenario, he just ignited it.

One of the main factors in Othello is Roderigo, Iagos half witted right hand man. Roderigo is the person who supplies Iago with money, and is also the person who at the end of the book tries to murder Cassio. The reason that he tries to murder Cassio is because Iago convinces him that Cassio is Desdemonas adulterous lover. The reason this angers Roderigo to the point of murder is because he is in love with Desdemona. His desperate and imagined passion for Othellos wife is what ultimately drives him to kill another human being. It may seem at first that Iago made him act how he acted, but his motivation was actually his love for Desdemona. Iago did not ceate Roderigos love for Desdemona, he merely channeled it.

You learn of Roderigos love for Desdemona in the first act of the first scene, when Brabantio(Desdemonas father) sees Roderigo outside of his window.

The worser welcome.

I have charged thee not to haunt about my doors.

In honest plainness thou hast heard me say

My daughter is not for thee.

Iago as the Hero of Shakespeare’s Othello

Iago as the Hero of Othello

Roderigo, a soldier in Othello’s army, is in love with Desdemona and is deceived by Iago into thinking that Desdemona holds some affection for him. Iago, who is Othello’s “ancient” or his counselor, desires to hold Othello’s position and so tries to devise a plan to become general. As proved by the outcome of the play, Othello was too naive and kindhearted to properly lead an army. Iago felt that he should have been promoted to be Othello’s lieutenant but Cassio was promoted instead. The outcome of the play also proves that Iago was more efficient in achieving his goals. Iago’s plan is one that involves Cassio, Othello’s second in command, Roderigo and Desdemona. Iago is better qualified than either Cassio or Othello if he devised such a plan without either of them noticing. The same strategies he uses in everyday life he would be able to employ in battles. Iago has proven to be the ultimate soldier. Iago instills jealousy in both Roderigo and Othello by leading each of them to think that Desdemona and Cassio are having an affair. He accomplishes all this without being discovered until the end.

During the course of the play, Othello is further deceived by Iago to believe that Desdemona is unfaithful to him. Emilia, Iago’s wife, unknowingly helps Iago fool Othello when she gives her husband the handkerchief that was given to Desdemona by Othello on their wedding night. Desdemona always keeps this by her side, as a result of Othello’s command. When Iago tells Othello that he has seen Cassio with his gift to Desdemona, Othello becomes enraged and vows to kill her. He also makes Iago swear that he will kill Cassio.

Through Iago’s planning, Roderigo gets a chance to kill Cassio but fails. When Iago sees Roderigo’s failure to carry through with the plan, he wounds Cassio in the leg and kills Roderigo. When Othello hears commotion in the streets below he thinks that Cassio is dead and smothers Desdemona. When Cassio, Gratiano (relative to Brabantio), Montano (Cyprus official), and Iago hear Emilia’s screams from Othello’s bedroom they discover what he has done. Iago is revealed as the culprit and he then kills Emilia. After this Othello commits suicide and Iago is taken away to be punished.

Iago was seeking a revenge that can be justified because he felt that Othello had had an affair with Emilia.

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