Othello Character Relationships | Shakespeare Learning Zone
Iago, of course, is primarily responsible. He calls attention to Cassio and Desdemona talking together innocently and suggests that something more is going on. We first learn of there being a relationship between Othello and Desdemona when Iago and Roderigo are telling Roderigo (Desdemona's Father), that ''an old . Right from the beginning of Othello, the relationship between Desdemona and Othello is an important issue. Two men, Iago and Roderigo, are.
However, the personal relationship between Othello and Iago is much more complex. Othello trusts Iago totally as Iago has a reputation in Venice for being very honest: However, Iago despises Othello and makes it his personal mission to destroy him: Several strokes of good fortune the handkerchief etc help Iago keep Othello on side until the murder of Desdamona but ultimately it is his genius for manipulation and trickery that ensures his success.
Desdemona and Othello - True Love?
- Conflict of Male Female Relationship in Othello
In marrying a 'Moor', Desdemona flies in the face of convention and faces familial and societal criticism for her bold choice. Her father is shocked and dismayed: She fell in love with his stories of valour; "These things to hear would Desdemona seriously incline".
This also shows that she is not a passive, submissive character in that she decided she wanted him and she pursued him.
On the subject of her relationship with Othello, Desdemona says: That I did love the Moor to live with him, My downright violence and storm of fortunes May trumpet to the world: I saw Othello's visage in his mind, And to his honour and his valiant parts Did I my soul and fortunes consecrate. While Othello appears confident of her love for him in Act 1 deep down he is insecure in the relationship. The task of the critic at present, then, is to discover the cause of this great change in the relationships of these two men, and from this to trace the further development of the play.
Ever since Coleridge it has been the common thing, though by no means universal, to attribute the whole trouble to the sudden and unmotived malignity of lago, or to forget the fact that it has been sudden and unlike anything heard of before on the part of lago, and to assume only the malignity. Later critics, however, have not been able to overlook the emergence of the malignity at this time, and have attempted to explain it from their own imaginations rather than from the words of the play.
Professor Bradley may be taken as voicing the best that can be said by those who would lay all the blame of the tragedy upon lago, but who feel they must account in some manner for this sudden malignity.
Relationships in Othello
Not content with charging lago with the evil the play undoubtedly lays upon his shoulders, Professor Bradley suggests that lago has always been in reality a villain, and has worn his "honesty" only as a mask, which now he throws off, revealing suddenly the real villain that he is, his true nature. He has always been, says Professor Bradley, "a thoroughly bad, cold man, who is at last tempted to let loose the forces within him.
A complete criticism of the assigned motive of lago, and an attempt at the elaboration of his real state of mind must be left until after we have followed the conflict through the initial stages, when we shall be better able to judge the real merits of the case. Sufficient reason has been found, however, for declining to admit that the drama is the story of the intrigue of lago, and as the name would intimate it is the play of Othello.
There is also now justification for attempting to explain the play as in the main the tragedy of the Moor in his new home in Venice. In our attempt to find the explanation of the tragedy in the hero, as assigned by the dramatist, we seem forced to say that now at last, when a crisis comes upon him, the great Moorish general, transplanted from the wilds of his African or Spanish home into the cultured and refined life of Venice, finds himself unable to bear honorably all the great responsibilities of his high position and his new life.
It may be that the dramatist, who was a man of peace and had little admiration for the Caesars and 'other great warriors, is here taking his opportunity to show how little of the higher virtues dwells in great military ability. But the fact that he makes Othello a Moor, and so designates him throughout the play, must also be accounted for. Up to this time Othello had borne himself nobly in his adopted state, and had the full confidence of the people and the senate, and was universally acknowledged to be the first soldier of Venice.
But at this point he fails. For once, and for the first time, he allows purely personal considerations to sway him from following the established order of preferment in the army, and does a great injustice to lago. With no reason that he dare give, he appoints a wholly inexperienced man in preference to a tried and proven soldier who had fought under his own eyes, "At Rhodes, at Cyprus, and on other grounds Christen'd and heathen.
This wholly unwarranted rightly grieved lago, who took it as a great slight, for he believed he was entitled to promotion. It also shook his confidence in Othello, and roused in him all his force of resentment and turned him into a bitter enemy of Othello. Thus far in Shakespeare's play there is not so much as a hint of the motive assigned to lago in Cinthio's novel, the presumed source of the play. The dramatist has almost completely changed the point of view of the whole story, by inventing an entirely new, and perhaps loftier if not better, motive for his lago.
On the other hand, he transformed the one he found in the story, and invented the character of Roderigo to bear that vulgar part. Then he invents a second motive for Iago, and makes him hate Othello also for his supposed relations with Emilia.
By way of revenge for this offence, lago's first impulse is to try to corrupt Desdemona, and thus get even with Othello. But how little this was his intention is seen by the fact that he never seems to have seriously considered it.
Shakespeare's Othello - Othello's Relationship with Iago and Iago's Motive
In place of this, however, he has an alternative that becomes his ruling motive, to put Othello into a jealousy of Cassio. The conflict is also about power, but the cause is again the male-female relationships and the conflict between the males and males.
William Shakespeare We can say that the drama is mainly about sexual struggles - both intra-sexual and inter-sexual -because we see power struggles between couples and friends throughout the play: Iago wins the heart of Othello against his own wife; Desdemona and Emilia defend themselves against their husbands' suspicions; and Bianca works hard to assert her rights as Cassia's mistress.
In the beginning, Desdemona and Othello are in a relationship of true love, and the couples of lago and Cassio are in false love. Emilia and Iago have a poor match, and Cassio doesn't want the 'bauble', a mere prostitute, to be seen with him in public.
Marriage has made Emilia cynical about male-female relationships; she knows she is merely 'food' for Iago, acceptable until she disobeys him and refuses to be silent, at which point she is dismissed as a 'villainous whore'.