Iago And Betrayal In “Othello”
“Othello” is one of the most successful plays in Shakespeare’s collection. One of the subjects the tragedy addresses is betrayal which is a crucial part of the play that helps the author develop events to bring it to its climax. Iago’s character symbolizes disloyalty, but what are the motives of his treachery? It seems like there is not enough reason for his actions. By creating Iago in “Othello” as perhaps a masterpiece villain comparing to all his other plays, Shakespeare introduces to the audience and reader an evil type of person who unfortunately exists in society, and he suggests that disloyalty is just part of such person’s nature, so one could betray for the sake of betrayal itself.
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Then he uses Roderigo to engage Cassio into a fight to destroy his reputation. The disturbance displeases Othello who is questioning the cause of the fight. The following long speech that explains this incident, as Honigmann notices, reveals more of Iago’s cunning talent (37). As if he does not want to harm Cassio by his words, Iago gladly tells what happened since it was his own plan staged to destroy Cassio, yet he shows like it is his duty to be honest and present the truth to his general, “I had rather have this tongue cut from my mouth / Than it should do offence to Michael Cassio, / Yet I persuade myself to speak the truth / Shall nothing wrong him” (Act 2. Scene 3. 218-220). In whatever Iago does, he wins in two or even three fronts. Cassio is no longer a lieutenant, and Iago gains the trust of Othello even more while meantime Roderigo benefits from this. After this incident, Iago advises Cassio to ask Desdemona to speak with Othello convincing to reinstate the lieutenant. Then by hinting Othello about the possible betrayal of Desdemona with Cassio, Iago takes latter by his nose right into a trap. The masterpiece of Iago’s betrayal is the use of Desdemona’s handkerchief which he places in Cassio’s room. By this one action Iago betrays almost everyone in the play including his own wife. This is why the use of handkerchief in the tragedy plays a crucial role. It is the proof to Othello that his wife is not