The Puppeteer in Othello

Othello is tragedy play about a black solider that falls to the societal and inner pressures of his ‘blackness’ as well as the influence from a malice villain. It is said to commonly often be the first person that speaks. A character that announces their problem and issues to gain sympathy from the audience. Iago does this first and makes further moves throughout the story to prove that he is the true villain in the story.

Othello begins on a street in Venice, in the midst of an argument between Roderigo and Iago. These two men are highly respected by the people around him, but also by military officials. Iago especially is a big main character in this play as he introduces the setting and tone of the story first as he is auguring with Roderigo. Iago informs Roderigo that the woman he is wanting is already married to Othello. We are given descriptions of Othello, that only highlight his appearances and personality. Othello is a black man who has ‘thick lips’ and his sexualized for his features, but also his new found marriage to Desdemona, a white woman who is the daughter of Brabanzio. Iago says he hates Othello, who recently passed him over for the position of lieutenant in favor of the inexperienced soldier Cassio. Because he was passed over, the motives of Iago are said to be personally against Othello. The jealously he feels fuels the rest of the story as Iago begins to stir the plot with his malice. Iago urges to. He seems almost to wink at the audience as he revels in his own skill. As entertained spectators, we find ourselves on Iago’s side when he is with Roderigo, but the interactions between the two also reveal a streak of cowardice in Iago to tell Brabanzio about Desdemona and Othello’s new marriage, saying that he has stolen Desdemona to get a rise out of Brabanzio. Although Iago is very vocal about his feelings about Othello to others, he makes it clear to the audience that he is Othello’s right hand man and fellow friend, who is suppose to serve him. This also reveals Iago’s true motives as he runs to Othello to tell him of this sudden accusation and speaks nothing of his involvement.

The moment Othello appears he confidently speaks up for himself and the love he has found with Desdemona. This is the words from a truthful honest man, and we are given this through the dialogue. However with the amount of people against him already, especially Iago, we are given the sense that he will not keep his image much longer. Othello explains that he wooed and won Desdemona not by witchcraft but with the stories of his adventures in travel and war. The duke finds Othello’s explanation convincing, and Desdemona herself enters at this point to defend her choice in marriage and to announce to her father that her allegiance is now to her husband. Brabanzio is frustrated, but acquiesces and allows the senate meeting to resume.

This is a moment of Iago’s that shows his puppeteer ways as he speaks to the audience.

“Thus do I ever make my fool my purse,
For I mine own gained knowledge should profane
If I would time expend with such a snipe
But for my sport and profit.” (Act 1 Scene 3)

He uses the audience to understand his next moves, but also explain how everything unfolds from here on out. Like a puppeteer Iago maneuvers his way into different situations. This can be seen in the conflict of Desdemona and Othello, Cassio’s fall from his position, and the messy Roderigo. His first plan to get rid of Cassio, as he think he is truly unfit for his job. Iago is a jealous being who is spiting others on the things that he is lacking, higher ranking position, love, and consideration for others. Othello is these things, a high ranking official, a lover, and offers consideration for others throughout the story before madness slips in. Iago targets on Cassio goes through, showing that he is an oppurtunist at best who sneaks his way into situations to manipulate them his way. He plants the seed of the adultery in Othello’s eyes, knowing that Desdemona’s attempt to save Cassio’s job is innocent. Iago turns this into an issue for Othello, as Othello becomes suspicious of Desdemona and Cassio. The constant whispers in Othello ears by Iago his supposed trusted friend makes him insecure and start to question his worth with everyone. It begins with himself, as he is unsure of what he is hearing or seeing when he sees Desdemona with Cassio. The doubt that he feels looms over his head, causing him to see her as untrustworthy. This is a complete shift of Othello”s behavior, which knocks him off his game. However this is going perfectly in Iago’s favor, as he seemings to control the outcomes of his targets. He masterfully feeds his self-alienated ways onto Othello, making him feel the quick change of madness in the matter of three days. This hysterical way of influencing someone seems fast, but Iago does it quick and harshly, ending the play with lots of death and a lots of realization. It is Iago’s talent for understanding and manipulating the desires of those around him that makes him both a powerful and a compelling figure.At the end Iago sees his revenge plan complete, each person he manipulated in down from their position of power. As much as he was not rooting for death, a tragedy is a not a tragedy without death. At that finale moment, Iago says nothing. He does not pride in his success. He tries to defend himself to the end, but ultimately cannot as everyone realizes the hand that he has dealt in this dangerous game. It is the tension between Othello’s victimization at the hands of a racist culture and his own willingness to torment himself that makes him a tragic figure and  that makes him Iago’s ridiculous puppet. Leading the story to end with death and a questions of who is really to blame for everything and everyone. All signs can be pointed to Iago. Our Puppeteer Villain.

 

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