Discuss the Intrigue in Othello

Like Macbeth and King Lear, Shakespeare’s Othello is full of highly interesting evil, an evil almost attractive in its energy and intensity. The personification of that evil is Iago, a mere twenty-eight-year-old man who is perhaps Shakespeare’s most likable villain. Ironically, Iago’s entire villainy is based upon the petty grievance that Othello promoted Cassio above Iago. Shakespeare’s Othello is considered as the tragedy of intrigue for a few reasons.

According to Shakespeare’s concept, the tragic hero himself is responsible for the tragedy. The Othello’s character, his rashness to a great extent is responsible for his death fall and disgrace. By analyzing the plot of Othello, critics found it to be a network of intrigue. All the intrigues in the play woven by Iago lead to a common goal. The four different intrigues are Iago’s intrigue against Roderigo, Iago’s intrigue against Cassio, Iago’s intrigue to murder Cassio and Iago’s intrigue against the married life and happiness of Othello and Desdemona.

Iago’s intrigue against Roderigo comes first; Iago uses Roderigo for his own purpose. He uses his purse freely as if it was his own and already promises that he is spending his money for giving presents to Desdemona. Iago ensures Roderigo that in course of time he would certainly enjoy this. Through this foolish tool, he tries to spoil the marital bliss of Desdemona and Othello. He incites him to awaken Brabantio to tell him of the elopement of his daughter and also of the place when she was with Othello. When Roderigo becomes impatient and begins to about him, he devises a plan. He advises Roderigo to stab Cassio in the dark and Iago himself fatally stabs Roderigo so that he may not live to tell any tale. But unfortunately, certain papers are discovered in the person of Roderigo which reveal his full villainy.



Then Iago is jealous of Cassio and has a grudge against him. He thinks that he himself is a better soldier. But Othello has appointed Cassio his lieutenant while Iago continues to be a mere ancient. He decides to take revenge upon Cassio for his insult. Besides this, Cassio has a beauty in his daily life which is into liable to him. Therefore, he intrigues to bring about his downfall. He first uses Roderigo to get him dismissed from the position of the lieutenant. Next he appoints Roderigo to stab Cassio in the dark but unfortunately for him, Cassio is not killed.

These are the various intrigues of Iago. These intrigues bring about the catastrophe to all the characters in the play even to the life of Iago himself. In other tragedy, Shakespeare has introduced the supernatural but here the fiendish Iago who is the cause of the tragedy. Othello has rightly been called a tragedy of intrigue.   

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