The Foils of Othello One of William Shakespeare’s many attributes as a playwright of the late 16th century was his character development. Shakespeare’s seamless use of indirect characterization sets his works apart from the other playwrights and authors of his time. In Othello, the Shakespearian tragedy about the newlywed Othello and Desdemona, Shakespeare uses character foils to emphasize the strengths and weaknesses of the characters. By making inwardly similar characters seem like polar opposites, Shakespeare truly shows how dynamic each of the characters is. Othello, the play's protagonist, is the most dynamic character of them all due to the fact that he is a complete foil of himself by the final act of the play. In the second act
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The trait that every character in this play needs, skepticism, is only given to Iago. He believes that he was cuckolded by Othello without any hard evidence, foiling Othello again because Othello tells Iago “Villain, be sure thou prove my love a whore, Be sure of it; give me the ocular proof.”(3.3). Othello still has trust in his wife referring to her as “love” showing that he still has affection for her as well, whereas Iago has lost all faith in his wife and does not love her at all but uses her as a pawn in his scheme. Iago’s goal in the play is to take Desdemona from Othello like he believes Othello took Emilia from him, and to do this he turns Desdemona’s kindness into a fatal flaw.
Iago’s and Desdemona are foils of each other throughout the play. Desdemona is fair and kind, whereas Iago is the embodiment of evil. Desdemona never told a lie throughout the play and retained her innocence even through the physical and verbal abuse of Othello. Iago is a deceiver and was compared to the devil when Othello checks to see if he has cloven feet. Desdemona is portrayed as the ultimate good she is an obedient wife that loves her spouse through his hardships. She loved Othello so much that even in her dying breath she still will not tell Emilia, Iago’s wife, that Othello murdered her saying “Nobody; I myself. Farewell, Commend me to my kind lord: O, farewell!”(5.2) even though she knows that she died a “guiltless