The Contrast Between Othello and Lago

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Othello and Iago are opposites of each other and this is what eventually leads to Othello’s downfall. Othello is honest, honorable, a loving husband and a war hero in the beginning of the play. Lago is the complete opposite of Othello he is manipulative, deceptive, sneaky, and full of grudges. They do share some similarities that aren’t seen in the beginning of the play, they are both similar because of their shortcomings. Iago has been completely taken over with the need to get revenge, making him plan to get even for the wrong he feels was done to him. 

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Othello lets his love for Desdemona turn him a jealous and possessive man, causing him to want to kill his wife to keep any other man from having her. We see Othello change into a jealous, possessive person because of Iago’s manipulations throughout the play. Despite the contrast between Othello and Iago they both let their emotions take them over. Iago is the villain the play, he has two main purposes. He wants to plot and deceive to get what he wants. He hates Othello because he believes that Othello slept with is wife. 'twixt my sheets he has done my office' (Shakespeare 75), he heard a rumor about his wife cheating, he wasn’t mad at his wife, Emelia, he seems to just want another excuse to hate Othello. 

Lago is also mad that Cassio was chosen to be Lieutenant instead of him. From his hate comes the main conflict of the play, Iago wants to ruin Othello using lies and deceit and remove Cassio from his position as lieutenant. Iago only cares about himself and his needs and will do anything to get it. Iago is in the army for personal gain, promotion and recognition. He would never do anything to help others if it meant sacrificing himself. Unlike Iago, Othello wants nothing more then for everyone around him to be happy, but he does still have some self-interest. 

Othello is an honest and direct person with everyone around him. When he is questioned by Brabantio about his love for Desdemona, he replies “If you do find me foul in her report The trust, the office I do hold of you, Not only take away, but let your sentence Even fall upon my life”. (Shakespeare 49) He would prefer to die before knowing that he is the cause for his wife unhappiness. Othello has a strong sense of duty, if he had to he would sacrifice everything for others unlike Iago who is selfish and only cares about himself. Even thou he is on his honeymoon with Desdemona he instantly agrees to fight in Cyprus for his Senate. Othello doesn’t want his wife to suffer so he gives her the option to stay in safety or to follow him. 

Othello's greatest traits are his honor and his selfness towards his men in his army and his wife. Iago uses Roderigo, in his plan to ruin Othello. In the beginning of the play he convinces Roderigo to yell for Brabantio, who is Desdemona’s father. He wants Roderigo to “Call up her father, Rouse him. Make after him, poison his delight, proclaim him in the streets; incense her kinsmen, And, though he in a fertile climate dwell, Plague him with flies. 

Though that his joy be joy, yet throw such changes of vexation on 't As it may lose some color.” (Shakespeare 14) Iago wants to corrupt Brabantio’s opinion of his daughter. He uses words like poison and plague, which are pretty appropriate considering the nature of his manipulations. He tells on Othello and Desdemona for eloping without constant from Brabantio. He uses Brabantio’s prejudice against interracially marriages to his advantage. He says “Even now, now, very now, an old black ram Is topping your white ewe. 

Arise, arise; Awake the snorting citizens with the bell, Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you: Arise, I say.” (Shakespeare 16) In his attempt to get Brabantio all riled up about his daughter’s marriage to Othello. He is telling him about how his daughter is sleeping with a black man and if he doesn’t hurry hell end up having black grandchildren. Iago uses Roderigo to rile up Brabantio as soon as he has done so he makes his exit, “Farewell, for I must leave you. It seems not meet, nor wholesome to my place, To be producted (as, if I stay, I shall) Against the Moor. For I do know the state”. (Shakespeare 22) This shows Iago’s manipulative nature he uses Roderigo to do all his dirty work, but wouldn’t show his face because he doesn’t want to lose his standing and let others know that he hates Othello. 

Othello and Iago have inconsistent characteristics, which is what separates the two from each other. Throughput Acts I and II of Othello, they differ in their reliability and devotion to other people around them. Othello is sincere and outspoken, while Iago acts like a good guy looking out for everybody, but he ends up stabbing everyone who ever trusts him in the back. Othello shows his honesty, like when his asked by the Duke about his marriage to Desdemona, he says “That I have ta’en away this old man’s daughter, It is most true; true, I have married her”. (Shakespeare 46) He chooses to be honest and tell the truth about his marriage instead of lying about it. 

Also, he is straightforward to others, when his warned by Iago about Brabantio knowing about his marriage to Desdemona he says, “Not i. I must be found. My parts, my title, and my perfect soul Shall manifest me rightly. Is it they?”. (Shakespeare 29) Othello says his good character and honesty will speak for themselves so he doesn’t care if he is found by Brabantio. Iago pretty much makes up the fact the he hates Othello, who has never knowingly committed any crime against him. Iago pursues to destroy Othello without ever having any true cause. Othello and Iago are both similar in the way they dedicate themselves to others but not for the same reasons. 

At the beginning of the play, Othello and Iago develop their different characteristics that shows the difference between them. Iago is trying to hurt Othello, while Othello express his honest qualities. Iago feeds off of causing others pain through his manipulations and deceit. Iago dedicates his time to Roderigo, so that he may do all his bidding for him. For example, when he makes Roderigo kill Cassio. He speaks to himself, “(aside) 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.” (Shakespeare 308) He has been manipulating and prepping Roderigo for this moment since the beginning of the play, Iago has been telling him lies. Iago used Roderigo’s jealousy about Othello marrying Desdemona’s against him. Iago doesn’t care who murders who, it’s good for him no matter how it turns out. 

Ultimately, Iago gets what he wants, Othello is driven mad and ends up murdering his wife because of all the lies Iago has told him. Iago made himself the only person Othello trust. In Act IV when he sees his handkerchief, that he gave to Desdemona, Iago convinces him that she gave it to Cassio. This is when we truly see Othello’s character change he says, “Ay, let her rot and perish and be damned tonight, for she shall not live. No, my heart is turned to stone. I strike it and it hurts my hand. Oh, the world hath not a sweeter creature, she might lie by an emperor’s side and command him tasks.” (Shakespeare 253) The handkerchief is what makes Othello completely convinced of Desdemona’s affair with Cassio. 

Othello starts talking about how his going to murder Desdemona that night, Iago’s dirty and deceitful ploy has worked and has made Othello go from being completely in love in Act I, and wanting his wife to be happy at all cause to plotting to murder her by the end of Act IV. Iago and Othello both have their differences, which is what leads them to their downfall in the end of the play. Iago uses his conniving, manipulative, and deceptive nature to exact the revenge he feels is owed to him. Othello who was a good loving husband and a respected general because if his honest nature. 

By the end of the play we see his character change into a jealous, and insecure murderer who commits suicide because of Iago’s manipulations. Iago’s character never changes throughout the play he starts as a miserably, self-serving individual who will do anything to get what he wants and ends the same after all his plotting his plan works better then he even imagined. What he didn’t plan for was, Othello killing him then himself. Othello and Iago are both two characters who contrast each other. When comparing them at the start of the story to the end we can see how their characters have changed and developed throughout the play.  

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