Psychological Manipulation in Shakespeare's Othello
|Iago manipulates Othello by corrupting his thoughts with lies||.|
The character Iago plays the part of the villain, corrupting the main character by taking advantage of his tragic flaw, in this case Othello's jealousy. He uses Othello's high regard for him to advise him against Desdemona's loyalty, and that Cassio and Desdemona slept together, in order for Othello to relieve Cassio of his command and hand his rank as lieutenant to Iago. Iago cleverly plays with Othello's mind by giving him clues such as Cassio sleep-talking about Desdemona and being found with her handkerchief. However, he never outright tells Othello to take action; he lets Othello come to the conclusion to kill Desdemona on his own. This is an example of a type of psychological manipulation that plants doubts in the victim through lies. Iago is a very good liar; he manages to fool most of the characters in the play until his plot is revealed in the end.
|Iago uses the handkerchief to further fuel Othello's jealousy|
|Othello was considered lower-class due to his race|
Iago's manipulation of Othello through psychological means almost proved successful in causing Othello's downfall if not for his plan being revealed at the end of the play, as it led to Desdemona's murder and Othello's suicide. Iago took advantage of Othello, using his deceitful ways and Othello's own weaknesses, such as his jealousy and his insecurity, to trick him into destroying himself and many others around him. Although, some might argue that Othello’s fate was brought upon by his own decisions, whether or not it was through manipulation or not. Despite his status and reputation, he was still vulnerable to the darker, more destructive side of human nature, which is essentially what defines a tragic hero. However, if it wasn't for Iago exploiting Othello's darker side, the outcome would have been much different.