Essay about To What Extent Is Iago Responsible for Othello's Downfall

1341 Words Nov 12th, 2010 6 Pages
AS English Literature
Othello Coursework: How far do you agree with Bradley’s view that Iago is wholly responsible for Othello’s downfall?

A.C Bradley, a known literature critic, argues that it is in fact the machinations of the character Iago that is wholly responsible for the downfall of Othello. “..that these worthy people, who are so successful and popular and stupid, are mere puppets in his hands, but living puppets, who at the motion of his finger must contort themselves in agony, while all the time they believe that he is their one true friend and comforter?” It cannot be denied that Iago had played a big part in Othello’s tragic fall, but could Othello’s tragic fall have contributed in destroying the Moor of Venice?
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So, Shakespeare portrays Othello as noble, self sacrificing warrior, but on the negative side he is a guileless, naïve and trusting sheep, more than willing to be led by a supposed ally. This is where Iago comes in, as that enemy masquerading as Othello’s ally.
Act 3 Scene 3 is where Shakespeare has Iago begins to poison Othello’s mind against Desdemona and Cassio, implying that they are illicitly sleeping with each other. One method that Iago uses is to refer to Desdemona’s adultery with Cassio with very lewd, descriptive language. “Would you, the supervisor, grossly gape on? Behold her topped?” By using this descriptive language, Iago manages to place an image in Othello, increasing his anger and slowly disrupting his logical thinking, preventing him from making a rational decision on anything, which is exemplified by the decision Othello comes to when convinced of Desdemona’s adultery. “Farewell! Othello’s occupation’s gone.” Another method that Iago uses to influence Othello is to drop hints that he knows something but refuses to show his thoughts to Othello. For example, when Cassio greets Desdemona, and Iago responds to the event, “Ha! I like not that.” playing on Othello flaw of curiosity and prompting him to say “ I heard thee say even now thou lik’st not that, when Cassio left my wife. What didst not like?” From this point on,

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