trustworthy himself and would naturally expect that he could trust those who have proven worthy in the past. Othello believes that people's actions should speak for themselves; he is not accustomed to people's actions and words being so manipulated and artificial. Honorable and honored above all, Othello is used to being respected as a leader and a general. He can't handle being ridiculed as a "cuckold," and Iago uses this indignation to goad
6 Othello into murdering Cassio. Most of all, Iago exploits Othello's isolation, once Iago has distanced Othello from his wife Desdemona and from his best friend and confidant, Cassio. Unable to turn to the two people he has always trusted, Othello has no one to share his jealousy and concern with, except Iago, who has designed this devastating trap. 7. Iago manipulates Cassio to achieve his goal of defeating Othello. Iago’s first overt action is to get Cassio to drink too much, especially after Cassio has confided in Iago that he has “unhappy brains for drinking.” When a drunken brawl ensues, Iago denigrates Cassio’s character by quietly imputing to Montano, the head of Cyprus, that Cassio is often drunk, that alcohol is “ever more the prologue to his sleep.” When Iago manipulates Roderigo to stir up Cassio to fight with Montano, Montano is wounded by the intoxicated Cassio. When Othello appears to sort out the public disorder and demands an account of what happened, Iago seems to hold back condemnation of Cassio’s actions. This seeming reticence endears Iago to Othello, who perceives it as loyal protection of Cassio. Cassio regards Iago as a friend who supports him in his moment of ignominy. After Cassio is stripped of his rank, he listens to Iago, who gives him advice about how to be reinstated. Having Cassio believe that he is a friend and supportive is central to Iago’s manipulation of him. After establishing his friendship with Cassio, Iago can easily advise Cassio to seek reinstatement in Othello’s favor by going to Desdemona for help as Desdemona is “our General’s general.” The advice to “repair the crack” in the love between Othello and Cassio will actually create a more significant rupture, as Iago knows. He can only fabricate the alleged relationship between Desdemona and Cassio if they are seen together. By ingratiating himself as a friend to both Othello and Cassio, and gaining a reputation as the “honest” Iago, Iago is able to fabricate the affair between Desdemona and Cassio. No one, including his wife Emilia, fails to believe Iago who appears concerned and helpful. As a friend to all, how would anyone suspect that his plan is to undermine Othello, Cassio, Roderigo and, incidentally but apparently unimportantly, Desdemona? 8. Throughout the film, Iago emerges as the ultimate con-man who pretends to be candid and is repeatedly called "honest Iago," but, as he reminds the gullible Roderigo, "I am not what I am." He reveals to Roderigo how much he hates the Moor, but he tells Othello, "My lord, you know I love you."
- Fall '09
- Othello, Cassio. Iago