Shakespeare’s Presentation of Othello as Responsible for his Own Downfall
Shakespeare’s Othello consists of the themes betrayal, love and dishonesty. At the centre of this play is the tragic downfall of Othello at the hands of his so called friend Iago. In this essay I will be discussing the reasons for and against Othello being responsible for his downfall through looking at critical interpretations of his character and actions.
In some ways you could say that Othello was highly responsible for his own downfall as he was easily manipulated by Iago showing him to be gullible and naive. Iago manipulates Othello by making him suspicious through inference,“Ha I like not that”.Iago mutters this in act 3 scene 3 when he sees Desdemona and Cassio talking. Iago hints that he knows something making sure Othello can hear yet making it subtle enough to pretend that he didn’t want him to know. Iago then pretends to be reluctant to tell Othello about Desdemona,“Utter my thoughts! Why, say they are vile and false?”He tells Othello just enough to intrigue him; he does this by asking leading questions,“Did Micheal Cassio when you wooed my lady, know of your love?”Iago exasperates Othello by revealing so little,“I did not think he had been acquainted with her”.This adds to Othello’s jealousy about Desdemona and so he keeps asking more questions about what Iago may know“What dost thou say, Iago? He then wants to no all the details,“I prithee speak to me as to thy thinkings”.Iago is gaining more influence over Othello after this point `as Othello is becoming more trusting of him, Iago is putting himself in a place of knowledge and power. The critic leavis also agrees that Othello has no one to blame but himself for his actions,‘………………………………………….’.Yet in some ways you could say that Othello wouldn’t have acted the way he did if it wasn’t for the fact that Iago was manipulating him and therefore he might not have been entirely responsible.Bradley also a critic states that it was Iago’s manipulation that eventually led to Othello’s downfall,‘…………………………………………..’.
On closer examination, throughout the play we see Iago manipulating all the characters in turn; this shows that he is an expert master manipulator for everyone to be deceived by him. When reading this play we don’t expect Othello to be as easily manipulated by Iago as he was.