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The Manipulation of Perception in Shakespeare’s Othello

The Manipulation of Perception in Othello

This paper contains 237 words of teacher’s comments. What one perceives is influenced by one’s environment. The setting and commentary surrounding events changes our perception of them. Any innocent gesture can be perceived in the wrong way with enough persuading from someone else. Even if someone has total faith in another person’s innocence, they can be persuaded to doubt them through the twisting of events. Once just a small amount of doubt has been planted, it influences the way everything else is seen. This occurs throughout the play, Othello. In this play, Iago influences Othello’s perception of events through speeches and lies, making him doubt Desdemona’s fidelity. Iago uses his talent of manipulating events to exact his revenge on Othello. Iago’s twisting of events in Othello’s mind leads to the downfall of Othello as planned, but because he fails to twist Emilia’s perception as well, he facilitates his own eventual downfall.

When Iago first sets out to deceive Othello, he tells him, “look at your wife; observe her well with Cassio” (3.3.196). He knows that if he can plant enough doubt and jealousy in Othello’s mind, Othello only needs to look at Desdemona being friendly with Cassio to suspect infidelity. After this, when Desdemona asks for Cassio’s reinstatement, it looks as though she is trying to get something better for her lover, as opposed to just helping a friend.

Iago talks about jealousy and deception in this same scene, but never gives any proof or direct descriptions of Desdemona’s betrayal. Yet we know that Othello’s perception has been sufficiently influenced to make him angry and sick by the end of this conversation. He tells Desdemona he has a headache, but he refuses any help from her. When she puts her handkerchief to his head, he pushes it away saying, “your napkin is too little” (3.3.285). This takes on more significance later on in the play when we find out that this handkerchief is the first token of love Othello ever gave to Desdemona.

Also in this scene, we see how much Othello had trusted, loved, and believed in Desdemona. He says, “I do not think but Desdemona’s honest” and “If she be false, O then heaven mocks itself! I’ll not believe’t”(3.3.223, 275-6). But he does suspect her, and it seems these statements are only there to convince himself that she really is true.

Free Essay: The Character of Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello

The Character of Iago in Othello

In the play Othello, by William Shakespeare, there is a display of the different human facets. This essay will primarily focus on the qualities of Iago. The way Shakespeare went about the description of Iago’s character; anyone would assume that he was nothing but a despicable person. I would like to add a couple of perspectives to the list of theories. It may be that some of the things this character committed are somewhat justifiable.

Now what exactly did this character, Iago, do that makes everyone perceive him as such a person? Well, he obviously is no heaven sent angel, he just happens to be as human as you and I. He just happens to be a smart individual who knows how to use his surroundings. Problems first arise when Iago finds out that another colleague has filled in the position of lieutenancy, which he has longingly envied. (Act 1.1) And those orders were given out by none other than Othello, general and best friend to Iago.

So we have one bitter individual who feels cheated out of a position that should have been awarded to him in the first place. Already we have one character showing resentment towards someone whom he should have held a close relationship with. Here enters Roderigo, who unfortunately was just someone of temporary importance. So why not make use of him? The moor, Othello, has currently run off with the fair maid Desdemona enraging Roderigo, a former suitor of hers. These jealousies that stir within Roderigo are enough to maintain him by Iago side to do his bidding. Iago obviously knows how to get inside of people’s heads; it seems to be what he does best. So he uses that to his advantage. After successfully enraging Roderigo he convinces him that he can still have Desdemona for himself. He conjures up a plan in which he and Roderigo will alert Barbantio that his innocent daughter has eloped with Othello, with the intent to cause Othello trouble of course. Roderigo sees it as a chance to get Desdemona back. At least that is the line that Iago feeds him. The thing that really captures me about Iago’s character is that he is very straightforward. When he first took action he let everyone know of his intentions but since everyone was too preoccupied with their own worries they paid him no mind.

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