“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” is a quote that very well describes how two-face Iago really is. In William Shakespeare’s play, Othello, Iago’s hatred toward the Moor, Othello, leads him to devise a plan against him. As a result, Othello goes from truly loving his wife to hating her with a passion. Othello’s hatred and anger proves fatal for Desdemona, Emilia, Roderigo, and Othello, himself.
Iago effectively manipulates Othello, Roderigo, and Cassio by; presenting himself as an honest individual to Othello, lying to Roderigo about getting him married to Desdemona and helping Cassio with his problem to obtain the lieutenant position from him. Iago’s manipulation was proved effective when Othello grew hatred towards Desdemona and decided to kill her. For example, “If thou dost slander her and torture me, Never pray more; abandon all remorse; on horror’s head accumulate… Greater than that”(III, iii, 368-373), is what Othello says when he begins to doubt his wife Desdemona.
Othello uses this hyperbole to describe his anger at the possibility of Iago lying about his wife being disloyal. Othello declares that the Earth will be confused with horror at Othello’s actions in such state of madness. Regardless of the fact that Othello gets mad about what Iago tells him, in his mind he doubts Desdemona and that is confirmed when he asks Iago for proof. Othello later says “O, that slave had forty thousand lives! One is too poor, too weak for my revenge”(III, iii, 442-443).
Again, Othello uses a hyperbole by referring to Cassio as a slave and saying he has forty thousand lives. As jealously strikes Othello, he trusts Iago a lot and plans to kill Desdemona. Iago poisoned Othello’s mind into thinking that Desdemona betrayed him and Othello starts to hate everyone. As Professor Andrew Bradley writes, “Evil has nowhere else been portrayed with such mastery as in the character of Iago”. Professor Bradley also agrees as to the fact that Iago is the master of manipulation and does it effectively in this play.
Othello is affected by his emotions which prove that Iago did what he had to do for his own selfish reasons, and manipulated Othello without suspicion drawn towards him. Roderigo also plays as a pawn in Iago’s plan when he is lied to by Iago about getting married to Desdemona. For example when Iago says to Roderigo, “Plague him with flies”(I,i,71). Iago uses this metaphor to manipulate Roderigo into going to Desdemona’s father and telling him that his daughter is married to the Moor, Othello.
Iago wants Brabantio, Desdemona’s father, to dislike the Moor because Othello did not make Iago his lieutenant. Roderigo is told by Iago that if he tells Brabantio that Othello and Desdemona are married than Brabantio might get them divorced or break them up. This way Roderigo will have a chance with Desdemona and express his love to her. Another metaphor that helps Iago with his plan is “Thus do I ever make my fool my purse”(I, iii, 375). Iago had been convincing Roderigo that money can buy him anything, even Desdemona’s love.
Roderigo believes him, blinded by his love for Desdemona, and sells his land to get money for gifts. Iago had been using Roderigo for his money and none of the gifts and jewels Roderigo gave Iago to give to Desdemona actually reached her. Roderigo who is crazy about Desdemona gets so carried away with himself that he is too late to realize that he had been tricked and used for his money. Roderigo is deceived by Iago whom he trusted so dearly to get him married to Desdemona, but little did he know that Iago was using him for his money.
Cassio is manipulated by Iago because Iago helps Cassio when he gets into trouble. For example, “I’ll send her to you presently; and I’ll devise a mean to draw the Moor out of your way, that your converse and business may be more free”(III, I , 35-38). Dramatic irony is displayed because we as the audience know that Iago wants Cassio to speak with Desdemona in private so that he can draw suspicion to Othello that his wife is cheating on him. Cassio on the other hand does not know this and thinks that Iago is being a good friend to him and even says that Iago is an honest and kind man.
Another example of dramatic irony is when Cassio says to Iago “You advise me well”(II, iii, 304). This is dramatic irony because Iago tells Cassio to talk to Desdemona about his loss of lieutenant position due to the fact that she is Othello’s wife. Cassio agrees to do so because he knows that Othello loves Desdemona truly and will listen to anything she says. Iago wants to make it seem like Desdemona is cheating on Othello with Cassio and that is his only purpose in telling Cassio to talk to Desdemona. Cassio is easily trapped in Iago’s plan when he desperately needs help in order to save his ob as lieutenant. Iago convincingly manipulated Othello, Roderigo and Cassio by being two-face, lying and portraying himself as a helpful person. This left Othello and Roderigo dead and Cassio injured as a result. Iago’s manipulations were driven by a basic desire to get back at those who had hurt him and gain what he thought was rightfully his. Although, Iago did effectively manipulate the characters, he did not obtain what he wanted the most which was the lieutenant position. This comes to prove that evil deeds do not get you anywhere in life. People really are not what they seem, are they?