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Literary and Psychological Prowess of Shakespeare’s “Othello”

Shakespeare’s literary and psychological prowess went undetected primarily since he was ahead of his time. Because of this, people in Elizabethan society had no idea that people might be afflicted with mental illnesses, let alone have them depicted in a play! Othello, Shakespeare’s play, was plagued by bizarre behavior issues. Iago, the play’s antagonist, shows narcissism and sociopathy by creating lies about Othello’s wife. By lying, Iago appears to be in the middle of a breakup because of Othello’s serotonin deficiency caused by Othello’s sickness. When Othello is enraged by Iago’s cunning and deception, he tries to tear down the Moores’ marriage. During Iago’s speeches, his head was filled with poisoned ideas. Iago felt skeptical as soon as Othello and Desdemona’s engagement was publicized.

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In 1963, Shakespeare wrote a tragic play titled “Othello, the Moor of Venice,” where he depicted Othello’s contacts with numerous characters. In the play, a Venetian military commander named Othello falls victim to Iago’s evil plans due to the latter’s jealousy, deception, and ambition for power. Devious plots are devised by Iago in Shakespeare’s play Othello to enlist the help of other amoral characters in his vengeance mission (Shakespeare, 2008). Evident in Othello’s doom, and Iago plays a vital role in his tragedy. Emilia, Roderigo, and the protagonist all die due to his actions.

He has a massive impact on the play’s plot because of his interactions with other characters. To bring Othello’s tragic story to a triumphant climax, his most crucial duty is to focus on the themes of vengeance, wrath, and envy. Desdemona’s character is distinct from Othello’s because he uses dramatic irony and the audience’s attention to draw them into the story. Othello, Desdemona, and Emilia die in tragic circumstances due to Othello’s loyalty to Iago and his family. Affected by the false allegations levied against him by Iago, Othello could ignore the rest of the story because he is preoccupied with a single component of it.

By exploiting his friends’ faith in him, Iago demonstrates his underlying evilness, which he does by manipulating them into hating one another. He uses their fears and anxieties to “build the net that will surround them all” to achieve his purpose (Shakespeare, 2008). His malevolent motives are primarily a long, unfinished soliloquy that fades into obscurity. Cassio’s lieutenantship, which he had hoped would be his, is the catalyst for his plan to take over the throne. Envious of his position, the other person believes he is entitled to and will succeed. He devises an elaborate plan to deceive, rob, and eventually kill Cassio to get promoted to lieutenant. Using Desdemona’s naivete to his advantage, he intends to replace Cassio as a lieutenant in the army. By persuading Cassio to kill Roderigo and remove him as a lieutenant, he desecrates Cassio’s honor and sullies his reputation. Thus, Cassio was utterly unconscious of what had taken place.

Despite the lack of evidence, Iago cleverly manipulates Othello into believing that his wife, Desdemona, is having an affair with Cassio, even though there is none. Because Othello’s death directly results from this mission, Iago must guarantee that Othello’s thoughts are diverted by the notion that he is being cheated on. His plan backfired, and Othello’s rage caused him to loathe his wife, in whom he had little faith. Iago gives Othello the terrible idea that he could murder Desdemona, which will allow him to achieve his vengeance objective. Othello is depicted as insane because of Iago’s intense paranoia, which he uses to convince Othello to kill his wife.

To make matters worse, Iago robs Roderigo, whom he considers a good friend. Desdemona is enticed by the money that Roderigo has given him. After discovering that Iago had retained the money for himself, Roderigo threatens Iago and is furious by his actions. After learning of the plan to seduce Desdemona, Roderigo loses his mind and instead murders Cassio, whom Iago is envious of, and reports having an affair with Desdemona because he cannot focus on the money. The amoral activities of Iago show that he lacks the capacity for self-awareness and hence lacks morality. It acts as a reminder of his bad character and that he is dishonest with his wife and friends. While he may be courteous in executing his ideas, this highlights his diabolical abilities, which enable him to corrode the thoughts of his friends and his fiancee.

The reader is taken aback by how expertly he utilizes his brain to achieve his goals while simultaneously avoiding detection. For him, it is possible to influence other people’s ideas through his ability to focus on their desires and toy with, twist, and eventually brainwash their psychological power (Shakespear, 2008). Iago’s lack of conscience is evident in these occasions, and as a result, he is entirely evil. Indeed, Othello is not the kind of person who blindly accepts whatever he hears. When compared to Iago, Othello’s persona is naive and easily swayed by the deceitful schemes of his adversary. With the murder of his wife at the hands of his son, Othello’s character undergoes dramatic change, beginning as an antihero and subsequently a victim of Iago’s deceit. Because of his insufficiency and jealousy, he has become tragic.

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His shortcomings are shown by the claimed wife’s infidelity, which Othello thinks is dirty and unpleasant, revealing his character flaws. Because he sees sex as a unifying force, his paranoia is exacerbated. Due to jealousy of Othello’s position as a military general in the Venetian army, Iago pursues Othello as a target for his ascent to power. When he sees how easily Othello may be brainwashed, Iago marvels at the ease of the task and even expresses admiration for how simple it is to do. It is hard to see how someone of such power could get sucked into these schemes. To begin with, Othello is condemned to failure due to his ignorance of the brewing process. As a military general, he should have responsibility for wartime operations like the Turkish fleet, yet his actions do not reflect this.

Othello’s shortcomings, even though he did not deserve to die, his terrible end is justified. The man should have known better than to let the many defects in his character decide the fate of his life. Shakespeare elicits the reader’s empathy for the protagonist by employing this strategy. Even though he is not of the same race or culture as the women of Venice, Othello nevertheless marries Desdemona despite her father’s displeasure. It is more proof that Othello is living in his world and not in the other women of Venice. In addition, He classifies women as either holy or filthy according to their level of devotion to Him. He does not trust his wife because he saw her trick her father before, and he worries she’ll do the same to him in the marital bed.

Adding to his sense of inadequacy is Othello’s immaturity in verbal exchanges, not to mention his inability to articulate his ideas. For example, he tells Brabantio and Duke that he is rude in his speech and little blessed with the sweet term of peace and that he knows little of this big world, more than pertains to acts of broil and conflict. It is more likely that he kills his wife because he believes she is in love with another man than because he compellingly speaks to them. Due to Iago’s sincerity, friendliness, and loyalty to Emilia, Othello places his faith in Iago’s logic as evidence of his inability to multitask and his lack of cognitive flexibility. Iago’s insinuations drive him to become too emotional, leading to his erroneous reasoning because he does not undertake introspection to assess his inner self. This man’s gullibility is fueled by jealousy, which eventually takes control of him and dictates his every action. Unfortunately for Othello and his beloved wife, Desdemona, Iago’s malicious schemes to end their demise are successful.

It is also essential to understand that Shakespeare uses Othello’s weaknesses to justify his sad conclusion to communicate the notion that people such as Othello and his ilk are unfit to rule because of their inherent flaws. Despite his achievements and powers, this hero fails to use logic and falls prey to Iago’s plot, and thus is born a tragic hero in the eyes of the audience. Suicide is the only way for him to atone for killing his beloved wife, and as a result of his depression and feelings of remorse, he ends up killing himself. Iago’s desire for power and revenge serves as a catalyst for envy, which harms him in every aspect. As a result, thinking clearly and independently before acting is a prerequisite for successful decision-making. Othello’s position elicits a sympathetic response from the reader, making it appear more natural than fiction. Consequently, Iago is pure evil, whereas Othello is exceptionally naive, falling prey to Iago’s cunning plan.

Work Cited

Shakespeare, W. (2008). The Oxford Shakespeare: Othello: The Moor of Venice. OUP Oxford.

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StudyCorgi. "Literary and Psychological Prowess of Shakespeare’s “Othello”." December 27, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/literary-and-psychological-prowess-of-shakespeares-othello/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Literary and Psychological Prowess of Shakespeare’s “Othello”." December 27, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/literary-and-psychological-prowess-of-shakespeares-othello/.

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