Othello” has been described as William Shakespeare’s perfect play
Since 1604, this Shakespearean tragedy has captivated audiences of all ages. The play begins when Othello, a Moorish nobleman, and soldier of fortune, unconsciously evokes the spirit of evil in the villainous Iago by choosing Cassio as his lieutenant and not him. Partly for vengeance, but mostly for wicked delight, Iago soon plans to bring about the downfall of Othello and his new officer. Enjoy!
Scene I [Venice. A street.]
Scene II [Venice. Before the Sagittary]
Scene III [Venice. A chamber in the Senate House]
Scene I [A seaport in Cyprus. An open place near the harbor]
Scene II [Cyprus. Before Othello’s Castle]
Scene III [Cyprus. Within the Castle]
Scene I [Cyprus. Before the Castle]
Scene II [Cyprus. Within the Castle]
Scene III [Cyprus. The garden of the Castle]
Scene IV [Cyprus. Before the Castle]
WHO’S WHO IN THE CAST
Denzel Washington (Othello) has been seen gracing the screens of movies such as Philadelphia, Courage Under Fire, and the recent The Preacher’s Wife. His honorable presence and charm do not hinder his ability to take on the serious role of the jealously inflicted Othello.
Tom Cruise (Cassio) never fails to win the ladies hearts with his courteous behavior and boyish good looks, as seen in Top Gun, Cocktail, Interview with a Vampire, and Jerry Maguire. His commanding personality is also displayed in the film A Few Good Men.
Glenn Close (Emilia) has starred in 101 Dalmatians, The Paper, and Fatal Attraction. Her fragile and ladylike appearance well masks her strong-willed attitudes and values.
Tommy Lee Jones (Iago), with his devilish looks and cunning demeanor, is a professional at playing the role of the villain by now. Why shouldn’t he be after appearing in such films as The Fugitive, Batman Forever, and the recent Men in Black?
Without a doubt, one of the main themes that runs throughout William Shakespeare’s tragic play, Othello, is that of honesty. In the play, the most interesting character is Iago, who is commonly called and known as “Honest Iago.” However, this could not be farther from the truth. Through some carefully thought-out words and actions, Iago is able to manipulate others to do things in a way that benefits and moves him closer to his own goals. He is smart and an expert at judging the characters of others.
Because of this, Iago pushes everyone to their tragic end. Iago knows very well that trust and deceit must go hand in hand in order for him to achieve his vengeance on Othello and Cassio. Hence, as he plans the downfalls of them, he is continually trying to obtain their undoubting trust. He slowly poisons people’s thoughts, creating ideas in their heads without implicating himself. Iago even says himself that the advice he gives is free and honest and thus, people rarely stop to consider the possibility that Iago is fooling them. One person Iago deceives is Roderigo.
Throughout the play, Iago tells Roderigo that he hates Othello and that Roderigo should make some money so he can give gifts to Desdemona, whom he admires from afar. Thinking that this is sound advice, Roderigo does just that. However, Iago is actually keeping the gifts that Roderigo plans to give Desdemona for himself. Eventually, Roderigo begins to catch on to the act and confronts Iago, but he falls right into Iago’s trap again when he tells him that killing Cassio will help him win over Desdemona. Roderigo is then led to his death by the hands of “Honest Iago.”
Like Roderigo, Cassio also believes in “Honest Iago,” for he thinks that Iago is only trying to help him. On the night of Cassio’s watch, Iago convinces him to take another drink, knowing very well that it will make him drunk. Even though he really doesn’t want to, Roderigo puts his faith into Iago and states, “I’ll do it, but it dislikes me.” Iago’s plan goes smoothly when Cassio is made to look like an irresponsible fool, resulting in his termination as lieutenant.
Iago’s master plan of deception, however, centered around Othello’s jealousy over Desdemona. The whole time, Othello holds Iago to be his close friend and advisor. This allows Iago to plant the suspicion of his wife’s unfaithfulness in the all-trusting Othello’s head and later “prove” this suspicion by planting evidence. Only after he kills her does Othello realize the mistake he made in trusting the “Honest Iago.”
Trust is a powerful emotion that can easily be abused, and unfortunately, Iago knew this. He may know all about human dealings, but he is far from honest. He uses the trust that people put into him to turn them into his own little guinea pigs that work to his, and only his, advantage.
J.G. Holland once stated, “Reputation and character are widely different things. Character lives in a man; reputation outside of him.” This can be clearly seen in William Shakespeare’s tragic play, Othello. How others perceive a character is of key importance to the action of the play. For instance, we all know that the character of Iago is corrupt through and through.
There probably isn’t one good bone in his body, but ironically, the other characters all see him as “Honest Iago.” This allows him to manipulate them to achieve his own greedy goals. Iago is consumed with envy and plots to steal the position he feels he deserves. He tricks Othello into believing that his own wife is having an affair, without any concrete proof. Othello makes this really easy for him since he wouldn’t dare think that Iago was deceiving him in any way. Desdemona’s reputation of being unfaithful leads to her downfall. Since she lied to her father about her marriage to Othello, people believe that she is capable of all sorts of lies and deception.
Even her own husband did not believe her. This is one reason why Othello fell for Iago’s trap so easily. However, Desdemona’s only tragic flaw is that she loved Othello too much. Unfortunately, Othello does not realize that Desdemona had been a faithful wife until after he had killed her. The vast difference between reputation and character adds not only irony but also conflict to Othello. It gives the play a twist while maintaining the audience’s undivided attention. When you are reading the book, it’s almost like you could wish that there was a way you could speak to the characters themselves and show that their perception of other characters is totally wrong.