Infidelity in Othello Essays

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Infidelity in Othello

Two important scenes in Othello are the "Temptation scene" (3.3) and the "Willow scene" (4.3). Although the topic of discussion in both scenes is infidelity, the two scenes contrast more than they compare.

First, the setting is different in the two scenes. Most of the Temptation scene takes place outdoors, in a garden. The atmosphere is open but the conversation stifling. In this scene, Iago tricks Othello into believing Desdemona is cheating on him with Michael Cassio.

In the Temptation scene, Iago conjures up images of infidelity in the mind of Othello. Upon seeing Cassio leave the side of Desdemona, Iago looks on the scene with disdain. Unsuspecting Othello asks Iago what is wrong.
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The next time Othello meets Iago, Othello has a different character. He cannot sleep well (3.3.385) and has bid his "tranquil mind" (3.3.393) goodbye. Iago's words torture him (3.3.414). Othello demands proof of Desdemona's disloyalty (3.3.404). Iago's proof is a fictional story about Cassio kissing Iago in his sleep. Moreover, Iago says Cassio called out Desdemona's name during this dream (3.3.469) and exclaimed, "Cursed fate that gave thee to the Moor" (3.3.474)! Iago has won over Othello by now. Othello exclaims "O monstrous! monstrous" (3.3.475)! Othello vows to "...tear her all to pieces" (3.3.483)! Finally, Iago completes his mission by telling Othello he saw Cassio "wipe his beard with" the handkerchief Othello gave Desdemona (3.3.491).

Throughout this scene, Iago maintains a passive-aggressive temperament. He aggressively asks Othello questions in a passive way. In this way, he looks like a passive curious friend while violently attacking Othello's soul. Moreover, Iago tends to take a "feminine" approach by using gossip as an agent of discord.

On the other hand, Othello starts passive and reactive. He does not believe Iago at first. But after Iago's questions cause Othello to react. By the end of the scene, Othello is active and aggressive. He swears to kill Desdemona and in the next scene he will violently question her. People tend to consider these violent mood swings as

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