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Iago’s Role In Othello

The play Othello was written in 1604 during the Elizabethan era. Othello, the moor, enjoyed success in combat, which gained him a reputation as one of Venice’s most prominent Generals. He married the lovely Desdemona, the daughter of Brabantio, a Venetian Senator. Othello, despite his blackness, is a noble leader and Cassio his Lieutenant. Iago, serves as Othello’s ensign- an officer of low rank. Iago thinks he is worthy of a better title and resents both Othello and Cassio for their position. Iago was intrigued by Othello’s decision to appoint Cassio since he believed he had the qualities and experiences needed for the position despite having the “three great ones of the city” advocate in his favor. (1.1.9). Iago is threatened by both Othello…show more content…
Iago then brings up that Desdemona and Cassio were spending some quite time together. Women in Venice had a reputation of being “loose” which also aided Iago in convincing Othello. Othello demands proof and uses the handkerchief as proof. Iago brings up the time in his sleep Michael Cassio confessed, ‘”Sweet Desdemona…let us hide our loves!” and he also says “Such a handkerchief I am sure it was your wife’s –did I today see Cassio wipe his beard with” (3.3.299-301). The handkerchief was the first gift that was given to Desdemona by Othello and was extremely valuable to him. Othello begins to think that it is possible that she infidel to him. Cassio’s reputation of being a lady’s man makes him the perfect target for Iago. This leads to Othello latent sensuality in a violent, jealous and masculine form. Iago uses the handkerchief as proof to show the infidelity of Desdemona. Iago brings up the time in his sleep Michael Cassio confessed “Sweet Desdemona, Let us be wary, let us hide our loves” (3.3.475-476). Then Iago asks Othello about the handkerchief that he had given to Desdemona and informs him that “such a handkerchief—I am sure it was your wife’s—did I today See Cassio wipe his beard with” (3.3.496-498).Othello is furious with…show more content…
Othello, despite deriving from slavery is a general, while Cassio has been promoted to lieutenant. In order to destroy their masculinity, manipulates both characters by undermining there weaknesses. He knows that Michael Cassio has a lust for wine and that makes Othello think that his prize possession had an affair with his lieutenant. . Desdemona has been having an affair with one of his staff. Iago’s inability to have traditional power translates to him attacking women. At the end of the day, even though he was able to accomplish his plan, he gains nothing from the mess he

Feminine Roles in Othello

Feminine Roles in Othello

A variety of roles have women in them in William Shakespeare’s tragic drama Othello. Let us in this essay examine the female characters and their roles.

One key role for the heroine of the drama, Desdemona, is to support the general. David Bevington in William Shakespeare: Four Tragedies states the hero’s dependence on Desdemona:

Othello’s most tortured speeches (3.4.57-77, 4.2.49-66) reveal the extent to which he equates the seemingly betraying woman he has so depended on for happiness with his own mother, who gave Othello’s father a handkerchief and threatened him with loss of her love if he should lose it. (226)

A different role for the heroine appears at the beginning of the play. Iago persuades the rejected suitor of Desdemona, Roderigo, to accompany him to the home of Brabantio, Desdemona’s father, in the middle of the night. Once there the two awaken the senator with loud shouts about his daughter’s elopement with Othello. This is the initial reference to the role of women in the play – the role of young wife. Iago’s bawdy references to the senator’s daughter present a second role of women – that of illicit lover. The father’s attitude is that life without his Desdemona will be much worse than before; without her he foresees “nought but bitterness.” Here is seen another role or function of women in the drama – that of comforter for the aged. Brabantio is the old father, and he hates to lose the comforting services of his Desdemona.

Othello expresses his sentiments to Iago regarding his relationship with the senator’s daughter, saying

that I love the gentle Desdemona,

I would not my unhoused free condition

Put into c…

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…emona’s falseness. Emilia at this point becomes a beacon of light and truth; she contradicts Iago: “Thou art rash as fire, to say / That she was false: O, she was heavenly true!” and accuses him of lying and of causing murder: “And your reports have set the murder on.” Emilia’s stunning interrogation and conviction of her own husband cost her dearly; she is thus absolved from her earlier collaboration with Iago and ends on a note of innocence.

Thus it is seen that the roles of women are many and varied – and are key to the successful development of the story.


Bevington, David, ed. William Shakespeare: Four Tragedies. New York: Bantam Books, 1980.

Shakespeare, William. Othello. In The Electric Shakespeare. Princeton University. 1996. No line nos.

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