In Shakespeare’s Othello we are introduced into a web of a world entangled with lies, jealousy, and ultimately tragedy. We observe as Iago single handedly destroys the matrimony shared between Othello and the beautiful Desdemona. He does so with a flurry of deceit and trickery, playing upon one of the strongest human emotions, that of jealousy. Iago offers a story of betrayal to his master Othello, which ensnares his soul in a jealous rage of infidelity and honesty.
Iago convinces his master that his beloved wife, Desdemona, is false in her virtue and with his right hand man Cassio nonetheless. Iago offers many ‘proofs’ to his lord, most of which are deceitful, but alas some that only work to spark the flame of jealousy in Othello. We shall examine each one and unravel Iago’s plan to dethrone his lord Othello, the Moor whom he despises so much. We first find Iago sparking the flame of jealousy in Othello’s brain when he asks of the honesty of Cassio, as well as Desdemona.
Iago sly as he may be begins Othello to suspect that Desdemona and Cassio may share a love for one another. He offers that he has seen them whispering to one another and laughing amongst themselves as if to inquire a flirtation amongst them. Othello doesn’t seem to believe such things because he knows they are friendly and that he trusts the integrity and honesty of them both. This first isn’t really a proof but just a beginning in a clever plan to enrage Othello.
It is credible since Cassio and Desdemona are friendly and is only used, once again, as a spark to begin the fire. Iago’s words burn into Othello’s brain as he begins to become jealous and suspect things. At a time when he is extremely upset about thinking about such things Iago enters and begins to feed him more ‘proofs’. Iago tells Othello that one night when he was sleeping by Cassio, he being one to talk in his sleep, Cassio grabbed him and began kissing him and confessing his love for Desdemona.
Claiming that he was upset that she had married the Moor. Iago went a step further and planted a handkerchief in Cassio’s room, one that Othello had given Desdemona as a gift, and proclaimed that he saw Cassio with such a handkerchief. Othello’s jealousy began to rage as we see his anger and thoughts become impure. This ‘proof’ holds credibility in that Cassio did posses the handkerchief, but knew not of its origin or meaning. But it is truly false since Iago planted it in Cassio’s room to merely look as if it were given to him.
Finally Iago takes the final step in turning Othello’s flame of jealousy into a burning pit of hell in his soul. Iago tells Othello that Cassio had told him that he lay with Desdemona, and further more tricked Othello in to overhearing a conversation of Cassio explaining his relations with another woman. We find Othello to be consumed with rage and jealousy, as he sees no other alternative but to have them both murdered. Iago’s final proof is not credible at all since it is a lie, but his trickery has and cleverness has made it seem to Othello that everything Iago has spoken is truth.
The ‘proofs’ we have been presented with truly hold no credibility what so ever, but when used by a devilishly clever man as Iago, they appear to be truthful in every sense of the word. I find that credibility can be deceiving, especially when one whom you trust so much is the very one who is deceiving you. I find no credibility in any of Iago’s ‘proofs’ but then again I am the reader and know all, where as if I weren’t I may have been deceived myself, just as tragic Othello was.
I find also that Iago may have been credible in one respect, that he knew the grasp that jealousy could have on a mans soul and exposed this in Othello. For at first he began Othello’s suspicions by telling him what he really saw, that Cassio and Desdemona were friendly, and built upon that a web of deceit that “ensnared Othello’s body and soul”. This tragedy ultimately brings out credibility of one proof, that being that jealousy is one of the strongest human emotions and just as hate, it can consume you to.