Deceptiveness and Betrayal in Othello
Deception and betrayal are what drive the story of Othello, written by William Shakespeare. From the beginning of the play, Iago, Othello’s supposed closest friend and confidant, is filled with jealousy and bitterness. This is a harmful mixture that foreshadows Iago’s betrayal to a number of people later in the play. This outrageous betrayal is what instigates all of the action that occurs in Othello, and also indirectly triggers the demise of numerous essential characters.
The play opens with Iago ranting to his good friend, Roderigo, about how he has actually not received the position of Lieutenant, but rather a less qualified man has gotten it instead. “Three excellent among the city (In individual suit to make me his lieutenant) Off-capped to him, and by the faith of guy I know my price, I am worth no worse a place … For ‘Certes,’ states he, ‘I have already selected my officer.’ And what was he? Forsooth, an excellent arithmetician, One Michael Cassio, a Florentine” (I. i. 9-21). Iago’s jealousy drives him to plan versus Cassio, and gets him intoxicated, in a plot to get Cassio stripped of his position.
His plan works, and Othello eliminates Cassio of his title. Nevertheless, taking the title of Lieutenant away from Cassio does not appears to please Iago enough, and leads to one of the most well-known betrayals in literature and theatre, the betrayal of Othello. The most action in the story occurs during Iago’s betrayal of his leader and closest pal. Throughout the play, the audience sees the improvement that Iago appears to go through as he turns from a little conniving to wicked, and this in itself is what contributes to the story the most and makes it fascinating.
As the fact about Iago unfolds even more, it is revealed that he is not just tricking Othello since he desires revenge against him for making Cassio Lieutenant, but due to the fact that he believes that Othello has slept with his own spouse. “For that I do suspect the lusty Moor hath jumped into my seat … And absolutely nothing can or shall content my soul till I am evened with him, better half for better half. Or, failing so, yet that I put the Moor a minimum of into a jealousy so strong that judgment can not cure” (II. i. 220-227).
One would think that maybe good friends that were as close as Othello and Iago were depicted to be would be able to confront each other with their issues. Nevertheless, Iago’s thoughts go straight to acquiring vengeance, which may come as a surprise to the audience. He eventually ends up persuading Othello, after lying profusely, that Desdemona has been cheating on him. He does a complete 180 and turns versus his enthusiast, “Strumpet, I come. For, of my heart, those appeals, thine eyes, are blotted.
Thy bed, lust-stained, will with lust’s blood be spotted” (V. 35-39). This leads to Desdemona’s innocent death, and no one however Iago is to blame. Iago’s last act of betrayal before the closing of the play is against his own partner, Emilia. Throughout the play, Emilia seems rather blind to Iago’s blatant schemes versus Othello and Cassio, which is why it comes as such a surprise to her when she finally learns the fact. She threatens to tell the others about how Iago is the true bad guy and though he tells her to stop, she refuses, “‘Twill out, ’twill out. -I peace? No, I will speak as liberal as the north.
Let paradise and males and devils, let them all, all, all cry embarassment versus me, yet I’ll speak” (V. ii. 231-234). When it is clear to Iago that Emilia is about to expose to everybody that he is the evil-doer, he stabs her and runs away, and although he is later captured and brought back to the scene, this is his last act of evil. One that undoubtedly leaves an impression on the audience; just someone with pure evil in his heart might physically eliminate his own wife, a lady he assured to like and cherish permanently when they were married.
While the play is called Othello, most of the action is driven by Iago’s vicious betrayal of the man he envies, his closest friend and confidant, and his own partner. Rather of discussing his reasons for jealousy after he finds that his spouse might have cheated on him which an undeserving guy made the position of Lieutenant, Iago decides to trick those who trust him the most and consider him “Honest Iago.” These dreadful acts of vengeance are what drive the story and make it one of the most notorious tales of betrayal in literature and theatre.