The play, Othello was written by William Shakespeare in the later years of his career. Giraldi Cinthios, Tale of a Moor, based Othello on a story that was a mellow Drama, about a moor and his doubts about his wife’s fidelity. In Shakespeare’s play the Moor (Othello) convinced by his jealous aid (Iago) that his wife (Desdemona) is not Being faithful. Iago’s jealousy is motivated by his anger when he learns that Cassio of Florentine has been appointed Governor of Cyprus. He felt that he deserved this promotion and vowed to seek revenge against Othello.
Othello being a Moor commanding the armies of Venice is a celebrated general and heroic figure whose “free and open nature ” will enable Iago to twist his love for his wife, Desdemona into a powerful jealousy. Iago is Othello’s ensign, and Shakespeare’s greatest villain. His public face of honesty and bravery conceals a satanic delight in manipulation and destruction. . The crucial moment in the play is the scene where Iago deceives Othello and induces him to fall. He does this by expanding the tactics used in prior scenes.
Iago plants the seed of doubt in the Moor’s mind when he says, “Ha! I like that not ” (III, iii) as they came upon Cassio and Desdemona talking. He then retreats into a guise as “honest Iago” as he did in the brawl (II, ii). When he was the reluctant truth teller who must have unpleasant news dragged from him by a determined Othello. The honesty by him being reluctant to speak is reinforced by the moralizing tone he takes with his commander. Iago actually lectures Othello about his jealousy “the green-eyed monster” and insisting that he’ll not speak slander “he that filches from me my good name / Robs of that which not enriched him / And makes me poor indeed” (III, iii).
At the same time he is playing upon Othello’s insecurities by lecturing him on how Venetian women are deceitful and treacherous by nature. The seizure of the handkerchief is a great achievement for Iago in his quest to destroy Othello and was aided by his wife, who apparently has no scruples about betraying her mistress in small matters. Shakespeare will eventually transform Emilia into a voice of moral outrage, and by the final scene the audience will applaud her role in Iago’s destruction, but for now she is Iago’s accomplice.
It will take a great shock to inspire outrage against him-a shock that comes to late. Othello’s accusations and refusal to accept Desdemona’s denials are brutal and unfair, but his language recovers some of the nobility that it had lost in previous scenes. Iago’s like sorrowful laments for what has been lost replace curses, and the audience is reminded of the heroism and dignity that Othello possessed at the beginning of the play. His cry “o, thou weed, / Who art so lovely fair, and smell’st so sweet, / That the scene aches at thee-would thou hadst ne’er / been born! IV, ii) is a powerful expression of the love that he still holds for his wife, which has been ruined for ever by Iago’s poisons.
Othello is terribly wrong, but what Shakespeare demands that we sympathize with his error. Othello’s words as he prepares to murder Desdemona reveal the extent to which he has allowed Iago’s logic to dominate his own thinking. His fury has abated, but he is left with a sense of being an instrument of divine justice. Desdemona must die, because she has betrayed him. Othello’s self-delusion is so strong that he believes himself to be merciful.
He will not scar her body and he will allow her to pray because he says, “I would not kill thy soul” (V, ii). The actual murder is one of the most painful scenes in all of Shakespeare’s plays, because of Desdemona’s manifest innocence, beauty, and purity. She proclaims to continue are love for Othello to the grave and beyond, returning to life only to gasp out exoneration for her husband. He rejects are last gift, but his illumination arrives quickly thereafter, and the audience’s anger at the Moor dissipates as he is completely undone by the realization of his terrible error.
There is no need to punish him, his horrible self-awareness (“O Desdemona! Desdemona! Dead! ” is punishment enough. Then Othello passes judgment on himself with the courage we would expect from a military hero and loyal general, and he kills himself just as he once killed the enemies of Venice. Shakespeare allows him a final word, too, after this speech and Othello, dying, reaches for Desdemona, reminding the audience of what a great love has been destroyed. As for the destroyer, he too comes undone in this scene.
His parting words are “what you know, what you know,” denies us the explanation that we crave. The audience can take some satisfaction in watching Emilia roused from cynicism to righteous vengeance; bring down her husband as he brought down the victims. Iago’s fury at Emilia might just as well be a fury for himself, who spent the entire play manipulating Brabantio, Roderigo, Cassio, Othello, and Desdemona. In the end all is undone by the person he least expects, his wife, Emilia.