10 October 2010

Essay on passage of Othello

Act 5, Scene 1
Lines 9-23
I have no great devotion to the deed,
And yet he hath given me satisfying reasons.
‘Tis but a man gone. Forth, my sword! He dies.
                                         [He draws his sword.]
I have rubbed this young quat almost to the sense,
And he grows angry. Now, whether he kill Cassio,
Or Cassio him, or each do kill the other,
Every way makes my gain. Live Roderigo,
He calls me to a restitution large
Of gold and jewels that I bobbed from him
As gifts to Desdemona.
It must not be. If Cassio do remain,
He hath a daily beauty in his life
That makes me ugly. And besides, the Moor
May unfold me to him. There stand I in much peril.
No, he must die. (Be ‘t) so. I (hear) him coming.

A Tiny Flaw in the Plan
Othello, written by William Shakespeare, displays what human’s worst characteristics lead to. The combination of pure evil, selfishness, and complete loss of conscience is imported into the Iago’s character. His carefully plotted cruel plan leads to the death of general Othello, and his innocent wife, Desdemona. Iago’s desire for power and money backfires on him, thus destroying his life as well.
One of Iago’s ways of executing his plan is convincing others to do his job. He gives fake evidences, promises that cannot be fulfilled, and shameless lies. Roderigo, one of Iago’s victims, who is in love with Desdemona, believed in the villain’s every word. Even though he sometimes doubts what the hypocrite tells him, Roderigo still shows as naïve and believes him:
I have no great devotion to the deed,
And yet he hath given me satisfying reasons.
Iago has carefully manipulated the poor man, taking all of his treasures and convincing him to kill the main “enemy”, Cassio. At the end, the only person who would have any gain from all this would be Iago. He has convinced his general, Othello, that his wife is cheating on him with Cassio. Thus, Othello orders Iago to kill the poor man, not realizing that all of the villain’s words are false. Instead of at least following that order, Iago tells Roderigo to perform the murder. He, lied that Cassio is Desdemona’s lover, doesn’t need much and he easily goes in action: “‘Tis but a man gone. Forth, my sword! He dies.” This shows how Roderigo has been persuaded to such a degree, that he goes ahead with full confidence. Despite that Iago convinces him to kill another man, he begins having second thoughts about the whole thing.
            At the moment that Iago starts having second thoughts about whether or not his plan would be successful if only Cassio died, the whole “pyramid” begins to collapse piece after piece. In the beginning, Iago thinks that he has one-hundred percent sure gain:
… Now, whether he kill Cassio,
Or Cassio him, or each do kill the other,
Every way makes my gain. …
This is a turnover in the whole play as it is the moment which brings the doubt in Iago’s thoughts and plan, and makes it urgent for him to come up with a “option B”. So then he thinks over what the two possible outcomes would be: if Cassio remains alive, Iago might get revealed and his evil web of lies would be finally unfolded; the second option, if Roderigo remains alive, then Iago would owe him jewels and gold that he had taken before that as “gifts” for Desdemona. The quick improvised solution that Iago thinks of, i.e. to kill both of them, doesn’t cover a third possible outcome – if both Cassio and Roderigo remain alive.
The solution comes as the most obvious one: the murder of both Cassio and Roderigo. But here Iago fails to predict that Roderigo wouldn’t have the strength to kill another man. The words “No, he must die.” show the fear in the villain’s head: Cassio must die, otherwise everything would fall apart. However, Cassio remains alive, and thus the whole evil plan collapses.
This is the passage in which Shakespeare introduces a turning point in the play – the doubt in Iago’s head. The possibility that something different might happen, not what set in the plan before that, scares Iago and makes him improvise a backup option. Nevertheless, the villain fails at predicting the future, and good overcomes evil once more. Partially.

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