The play Othello by William Shakespeare is a tragic play brought together by the characters in it. Each character has different personality traits and attributes that contribute to the theme, message of the play, and the entertainment value of the play. The two characters most important to this play were those of Iago, and Othello.
The character Iago demonstrates many traits, crucial to the theme and plot line in this play. Many of the tragic events are caused by Iago’s conniving, greedy, deceitful personality.
Iago’s character shows his greed right from the beginning of the play. He plays a character who is angry that he was not picked to be the lieutenant. Because he did not get what he wanted, Iago becomes angry and begins to do things harmful to other people just to achieve his goal. And example of this is when Iago tricks Roderigo into giving him money. “I say, put money in they purse” (i, III, 384). Iago’s greed not only for power, but for money, is displayed here. Iago tricks Roderigo into paying him money for something that Iago knows will never happen. Iago takes advantage of a friend, steals his money, all just because of his own greed. Iago’s greed is overwhelming throughout the play.
Iago is very conniving. Iago cheats his own friends and family out of money, tricking them into doing things that they do not mean to do. Iago is quite good at his trickery however. He is able to keep the lies going until the end of the play where everything ultimately falls at his feet. Another example between Iago and Roderigo is when Iago tricks Roderigo into believing that Desdemona will one day love him. Iago drags Roderigo along the entire play leading him to believe that one day Desdemona shall be his, when in all reality this is just a figment of Iago’s conniving plan. Iago shows this when talking about tricking Roderigo, “Thus do I ever make my fool my purse” (i, III, 426). Iago talks about how he has just tricked Roderigo, calling him a fool. Roderigo is one of Iago’s own friends, but Iago is conniving enough to feed him lies and gain Roderigo’s complete trust. Iago’s conniving enough to trick his friends and family into doing exactly what he wants.
Finally, Iago is deceitful. Iago goes behind the backs of his own family and friends to better his cause. Iago tricks his wife into helping him with something that will ultimately lead to the death of her friend, and the destruction of society. Iago demonstrates this most with Othello. Iago pretends to be Othello’s friend, and trusted companion. In actuality Iago says things like “I hate the Moor” (i,III,408-409). Iago deceives his friend and leader Othello, showing how deceitful and cruel he can be.
Othello plays the general, who is tricked into believing false tails by Iago. Othello sculpts the plot with his passionate, jealous, gullible personality.
Othello shows his passion, and love, many times throughout the play. The first displays of his love come early on with his lady Desdemona. He shows great affection towards her, putting her before everything else. Later in the play Othello begins to show his passionate side. As he believes that he may be losing his grasp on Desdemona, she comes before everyone else. Othello’s passion ultimately leads to him wanting Cassio and Desdemona killed. “Good, good. The justice of it pleases. Very good” (IV, i, 228-229). Othello is talking about having Desdemona and Cassio killed at this point. This is a direct result of his passion. Othello’s passion has driven him to commit murderous acts, demonstrated how passionate he must be.
Othello becomes a very jealous character once revealed to the fact that Desdemona could be cheating on him. It is Othello’s anger from jealousy that leads to some of the tragic events in the end. As jealousy overcomes Othello, he becomes more and more violent in his actions. “I would have him nine years a-killing” (IV,i, 197). Othello says this after finding out that Cassio has his wife’s handkerchief. Jealousy drives him to say such devilish things. Othello does not have any other proof of his wife’s affairs, though at this point the handkerchief is enough to make him jealous, demonstrating how easily Othello becomes jealous.
Finally, Othello is gullible. Without Othello’s gullibility, the outcome of this play may have ben very different. Had Othello not believed the lies that Iago had fed him, the theme and messages in this play may have been very different. Examples of Othello’s gullibility can be seen when Iago tells false stories of his wife’s escapades with Cassio, or when Iago tells Othello that he saw them together. These stories were all false, yet Othello believed them, and was conned into acting upon them. Othello’s gullibility led to the destruction of himself, his wife, and his society.
The play Othello is a tragic play, put together through the personalities of different characters in it. Two characters with highly impacting roles in this play were those of Iago and Othello. The personalities of these two characters drive each other into creating a tragic series of events. Iago’s conniving deceitful ways allow the gullible, passionately jealous Othello into doing whatever Iago wants. Without Iago’s conniving plan to commit these acts, they likely would not have ever happened. Without Othello’s gullibility, and easy jealousy, he likely never would have committed the acts leading to all of the death and destruction. Through these two characters, it is shown that without the traits of them, many of the tragic events may not have occurred, and Shakespeare’s play and message could have been drastically different.
The play Othello by William Shakespeare bears important messages about parts of life and society. People may take different things away from this piece based on personal experiences or views. I feel that Shakespeare was trying to demonstrate how power, greed, and jealousy can be the routes of evil and destruction.
The characters in this play all play a signifigant role in the ultimately tragic ending, and the course to which it happens. These characters represent different people, experiences, and situations in life. The character of Iago demonstrates the greed at its worst. Iago’s character is the easy to hate, greedy, selfish, heartless, do whatever it takes to get on top sort of guy. Taking advantage of everyone in the story, including his own wife. His greed and willingness to do whatever it takes regardless of who it might hurt displays the problems with society. We see these people all around us growing up, the kid on the playground that steals your toy, the bullies of school, conniving heads of corporations eager for money and power. Though written hundreds of years ago, Shakespeare shows us that greed was a problem then, and we realize that it still is today after seeing the character Iago.
The tragic ending of this story shows what can come of greed and jealousy. We are left in the end with Othello’s wife dead at his hand, Othello dead by his own hand, Cassio wounded as well as Rodrigo, and Iago’s plot is unveiled. Not only are all of the “good” characters dead or in ruins by the end of the play, but the man who did this to them is discovered and ruined himself. The destruction of all of these people shows the power that can come of human evil and passion. The tragedy is Iagos doing, by his own hand he was able to over throw the Othello, and destroy the society just to lead himself into power. The greed leads Iago into manipulating Othello to do exactly what Iago had wanted him to do. Jealousy, however, is what allows Othello to go along with this. The jealousy that Othello has of Cassio and his wife drives him to commit awful acts of murder, leaving everything in crumbles. The greed and jealousy can be held accountable for the tragic ending to this play, and that is what Shakespeare is trying to show.
Finally, Shakespeare wanted to show the idea of Karma. At the end of the play, after everyone is ruined but Iago, it finally comes out that it was him who created this catastrophe. Everything Iago had planned to acheive is also ruined at this point. What goes around, comes around. Iago put forth much effort to do very evil things, and in the end it catches up with him and he too is left in ruins.
Shakespeare’s play Othello is a tragic demonstration of what greed and jealousy can do to a society. He uses the characters to demonstrate the different elements of greed, jealousy, and the evil that encompasses them. Ultimately, Shakespeare shows what a tragic outcome can be derived of such traits. This play written hundreds of years ago likely makes as much sense, and has as much relevance in today’s society as it did when written by Shakespeare.