This sample paper on Why Did Iago Want Roderigo To Anger Cassio offers a framework of relevant facts based on recent research in the field. Read the introductory part, body, and conclusion of the paper below.
“I am not what I am”. Despite Iago’s confession to Roderigo that he is not what he appears to be, this puppeteer of a character is still enabled to pull the strings of those around him, all the while preserving his reputation as the ‘honest Iago’.
This could be attributed to Iago’s use of language as a persuasive, manipulative, emotional and rhetoric device. When attempting to rile up Brabantio, Iago uses bestial imagery such as ‘a black ram is tupping your white ewe’ and ‘the Moor and your daughter are now making the beast with two backs’.
This metaphor reflects the Elizabethan stereotype that a black man is power hungry, uncivilised, savage and a worthless outsider. In the period of time the play is set in, inter-racial marriages between black and white couples were unacceptable and Iago plays on this to enrage Brabantio.
This animal references works not only work to craft Othello as an animalistic, violent, sexual being in Brabantio’s eyes, but also to portray his daughter as innocent and pure with the use of the word ‘white’.
This causes a contrast between the two lovers, flaring a father’s need to protect his daughter by victimising Desdemona and bestialising Othello. Similarly, Iago plays on the perception of a ‘father’s role’ in the context of the play by using connotations of robbery to imply that Desdemona, her father’s property, has been stolen from Brabantio personally.
Iago repeats the word ‘thieves’ and even asks ‘are your doors locked’ as a way to anger Brabantio and manipulate him into viewing the situation as a theft from himself, as he has not given Desdemona and Othello permission to be wed.
He even says ‘your heart is burst, you have lost half you soul’ to further enforce the view that Desdemona is Brabantio’s property and a part of him which riles Brabantio up further as it implies that he has been stolen from. Also within this scene, Iago uses repetition in ‘now, now, very now’ and ‘thieves, thieves, thieves! ‘ to instil an air of urgency and create immediate chaos. The urgency riles up Brabantio which is what leads him to act so suddenly and rashly.
Iago manages to manipulate Othello by using language techniques in the third act. He effectively plants the seeds of doubt in Othello’s mind with ‘did Michael Cassio, when you wooed my lady, Know of your love? ‘ which is a suggestive statement which forces Othello to question Cassio. After this, Iago then withdraws from this line of conversation with remarks such as ‘but for a satisfaction of my thought’ without revealing what his thoughts are. This effectively raises suspicion in Othello’s mind which was Iago’s exact purpose.
He uses repetition again but this time by repeating Othello’s words which creates an echoing effect and makes Othello uneasy as every conclusion he jumps to is justified with Iago’s repetition which allows Iago to be subtle and not draw attention to himself as the meddler. He uses rhetoric and short sentences such as ‘honest, my lord? ‘ to quicken the pace of their conversation which adds a sense of paranoia and edginess which unsettles Othello and again makes him question Cassio.
This technique works so effectively as a way to assert power over others because it gives the perception that Othello has come to his conclusions about Cassio by himself, when in fact Iago has planted these ideas in his head. Iago uses implications in a similar manner to deposit thoughts into the minds of others. In Act 3, he remarks ‘Ha, I like not that’ but when asked to explain answers ‘Nothing, my lord; or if – i know not what’ which not only paints him as an honourable character to Othello but causes doubt as his reaction is never explained, making Othello curious.
He also implies that Cassio is doing something wrong while saying the opposite in ‘I cannot think it that he would steal away so guilty-like seeing you coming’. This plants words that again spark connotations with robbery and deception into Othello’s head whilst in fact denying any such thing. This coerces Othello into believing that Cassio may be hiding something. Iago is also manipulative towards Roderigo. His plan is “engendered” after Roderigo has confessed to him his love for Desdemona. Iago teases Roderigo by saying “thou shalt enjoy her” to play on his desires and covertly promise that he shall get what he wants.
He also plays on Cassio’s priorities of male camaraderie and military lifestyle to influence him into playing into Iago’s hands. Iago plans to get Cassio drunk to ensure he loses face with Othello so he uses Cassio’s priorities to encourage him to drink. For example, Cassio takes rank seriously so Iago suggests they ‘have a measure to the health of black Othello’, a toast that would be rude and disrespectful for Cassio to ignore in both a professional and personal light. He later manipulates Cassio into drinking more by singing a soldier-like song ‘… a soldier’s a man, man’s life’s but a span, why then let a soldier drink! which works effectively as Iago is aware of Cassio’s need to fit in with the others and his dedication to his army position.
Another tool Iago uses with his language is to adjust it to suit his company. He relaxes his language around Roderigo to appear equal to the simple Venetian gentleman and give him the perception that the two are on a level. The structure is continuous prose, a baser form of speech, when the two converse which Shakespeare has used to highlight the difference to when Iago talks to others, showing how he changes his character depending on who he is talking to to play the situation to his advantage.
When Iago converses with characters with a higher status he reverts back to blank verse, a politer form. Iago uses this to make himself relatable, and therefore trustworthy to all of the other characters, allowing him to manipulate them further. This is important when he asks Roderigo to “be conjunctive in our revenge” as it makes Roderigo more likely to agree after they are seen to be equal. Roderigo asks “wilt thou be fast to my hopes, if I depend on the issue? ” to which Iago replies “thou art sure of me”.
Another more obvious example of how Iago places words into other people’s mouths as a tool to influence them. Iago’s convincing rhetoric and language techniques clearly reveal what a powerful and dangerous tool language can be, especially when used by the eloquent, but deceitful, individual. He is obviously a well educated and intelligent character which makes his manipulation that much more well-placed and influential. Iago makes the catastrophic destruction he causes look like child’s play as the language devices he uses are so simple yet effective.