Deception in Othello
Deception is a reoccurring theme throughout the play which touches all protagonists at various levels. The plot is based on the dishonesty and delusion of the characters. It is difficult for the audience to judge who is deceiving whom. the audience Often becomes part of the trickery and remains unaware that they themselves are being deceived. Deception is performed by all characters, however to different extents and purposes. , The three main characters in scene one, Iago, Othello and Desdemona, become involved in a mutual.. Iago is a character which leaves the audience dubious about his true intensions.
Nevertheless, Desdemona and even Othello himself can be found guilty of trickery. Deception is perceived as a powerful and destructive force. In the first scene it becomes the main source of tension between the protagonists, and continues to degenerate their mental state throughout the play and eventually leads the final downfall of the characters. Throughout the first scene deception becomes a method applied by all characters in order to establish their power and control over others. The structure of the plot is based on Iago’s self-centered plan, which aims to promote his position.
He intends to trick other in order to achieve his plan. He announces to the audience that he will follow Othello “to serve my turn upon him”, which prove his dishonest and wicked side. As a result we learn that Iago’s motives and words are false and should not be trusted, hence we begin to question his proposal of being deceitful in the first place. We wonder ourselves if we should trust his judgment once he declares “I am not what I am”. Iago reveals his plan to the audience in the presence of Rodrigo, who is also deceived later in the play, so it is possible that Iago also wants to veil his real aims from the audience too.
In the first scene Iago seems to be successful, as he manages to convince Othello that he is still his faithful soldier, this will enable him to gain Othello’s trust in the future. Othello falls for Iago’s deception and hands over his wife to him take care on her. Iago is also involved in deceiving other charters and stirring their emotions. He exaggerates the situation between Desdemona and her father and forces Rodrigo to follow him. Iago declares Othello as a “thief” who has taken away Brabantio’s daughter, whereas in reality she has chosen to go herself.
This is another example how Iago carefully manipulates the scene to evoke a reaction he wants. Iago introduces Othello to the audience as “an old black ran” who is ” loving his own pride and purposes”. Iago’s presentation of Othello would seem convincing to the Shakespearian and perhaps contemporary audience as it is something they would want to believe, due to strong racial stereotypes that were believed. At the beginning of the scene, Iago is bitter that Othello has no promoted him to his Lieutenant; soon this becomes his obsession and the driving force behind all his trickery.
Iago is determined to prove himself as a worthy soldier and part of his s plan is to demonstrate it to the audience . Iago tells the audience that he is in control, make reference to the stage control. However in his declaration there is an element of truth of his character. Iago’s main weakness is envy, and that is all that is revealed about him. In many ways Othello is similar to Iago, both men want to be successful, respected and in control of how they are perceived, and they achieve that through trickery.
Othello is accused by others of bewitching Desdemona and forcing her into marriage. In the scene Othello successfully persuades the senate that he was not responsible for “wooing” Desdemona to follow him. He delivers a long speech where he justifies himself for marrying Desdemona and suggests that his only “witchcraft” was love. This emotional explanation partially appeals to the Duke, however the audience’s reaction will depend on whether they want to believe in Iago’s warning against Othello or ” the moor’s” own declaration.
The audience can suspect that it is possible that Othello has another side which he is not revealing to the others. Othello can be accused of projecting himself in a genuine and honest manner, in order to win the support and sympathy of the other characters in the play as well as the audience. The respect he receives from the senate is based on his professional image and can only be sustained through careful management. It is not certain whether he is trying to cover an animalistic and brutal side to him, as suggested by Iago, or whether Othello employs this technique as means of survival.
Due to his Moorish origin he needs to protect himself from direct racial discrimination from the senate. In his defense he emphasizes his honorable and virtuous qualities; he does this in order to win the conflict with Brabantio, Desdemona’s father. If Othello’s intensions to marry Desdemona were based not on love but on his ambition to secure his authority, then the plot devised by Iago would enable Othello to get rid of his wife in an unsuspicious way and remain guiltless of punishing her for adultery.
In addition, falling for Iago’s deception is a way of securing his own political position and proving that he is the tragic hero in the play. Audience is not sure whether trusting Iago’s critical assumptions of Othello are accurate, because in the first scene Othello contradicts Iago’s presentation and everything he wants us to imagine of him, however as the play unravels Othello’s behaviour changes, which makes the audience rethink Iago’s initial presentation.
Shakespeare also depicts female deception in the play, like Iago, Desdemona admits to her trickery. However, her actions can not be categorized the same as Iago’s. After exposure of deceitful plans, the audience is more sympathetic towards her, as she does not seem as devious as Iago. However, Desdemona’s motives varied to the ones of Iago and Othello. She is not fighting to prove herself to the audience, or establish her status, but instead mislead her father in order to marry the man she claims to love.
Her aim of marrying a black man was just as unrealistic as a black man becoming more important than a white official, hence Desdemona is forced to lie and conceal the truth to achieve her personal aim, which is what Othello is perhaps also doing. Shakespeare presents that deception makes it possible. Brabantio, Desdemona’s father, feels deluded and warns Othello about Desdemona and to “look to her” because she is likely to deceive him. However, although her behaviour was considered as dishonest and shameful by her father and the authorities, her aims were not ill-meant.
Desdemona’s deception is the only one which has been truly recognized by the other characters and the audience, therefore her actions can no longer be classified as concealed or deceitful . As a result it is unclear which character is the subject of deception, as the protagonists are trying to convincingly persuade the audience to their own truths which perhaps they exaggerate, however at the same time they also conceal the truth from other characters, for personal benefits.
Throughout the first scene, deception is driven by jealousy, passion and self-centeredness. Through deception characters want to control their future, however as proven by Iago and to some extent by Othello, deception can temporarily aid personal plans, but in the long run it is an uncontrollable force. It is also suggested that even those who do not participate directly in deception that is ill-meant, also suffer from it. Desdemona, who seems to be the innocent one, also experiences terrible fate in the end, as a result of complex plans of Iago and Othello.
The audience is also entangled in the plot, and is unable to truly understand where the true deception lays. Due to lack of explanation of the character’s emotions the audience also feels deceived, despite the fact that Iago revealed his plans. Shakespeare suggests that there can be no master of deception, even the audience leaves the play unaware of the ‘real truth and protagonists, who carefully conceal their true feelings and intends, eventually become powerless and become their own victims.