Trust and Deceit in Othello, a Play by William Shakespeare

Lies are everywhere in society today, and perhaps most prominent within the recent election season, as politicians say whatever they think will get them elected. The same was true in medieval times, as shown in Shakespeare’s Othello. He tells the story of Othello, who is lured into believing Iago’s lies and deception, while one of the only characters to balance out those with good intentions is Roderigo. First, we have to examine why it’s Othello who becomes the victim of Iago’s deceit.

He’s too trusting and doesn’t question things. He lacks the ability to think critically and determine for himself what’s right and what‘s wrong. Othello believes it’s in people’s good nature to tell the truth, and this is reflected when he comments, “Iago is most honest”, blatantly showing how Othello is completely unaware that he’s being lied to. Because of this, Iago notices Othello’s trusting nature, and observes that ”the Moor is of a free and open nature, that thinks men are honest that only seem to be so;and will as tenderly be led by the noseas asses are.

He rudely compares Othello to an ass, and how he can be “led by the nose,” meaning he will obey whatever he is told without reservation. After this, Iago begins to feed Othello more and more lies. One of the biggest untruths in the first half of the play is how [ago tries to convince Othello that his wife lies to him.

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In the beginning, Othello seems to trust Desdemona he seems to believe that Desdemona truly loves him and supports him. Then Iago plants seeds of doubt in Othello’s heart and mind. He accuses Desdemona of having an affair with Cassio. Next, Iago subtly points out that Desdemona is capable of lying he points out that she lied to her own father about her marriage to Othello: “She deceived her father by marrying you” . lago’s comment causes Othello to doubt his lovely wife. Othello continues to believe Iago’s empty words. Again, Iago deceives Othello with his mere words. He apologizes for loving Othello too much: “I humbly do beseech you of your pardon for too much loving you”.

Iago is saying that he had to express the truth about Desdemona because he loves Othello. Then, Othello responds that he is forever indebted to Iago for his honesty in sharing the truth about Desdemona, and proclaims, “I am bound to you forever”. Clearly, Othello is convinced that Iago is honest and truthful. Iago realizes that Othello is upset by lago’s insinuation that Desdemona is dishonest, and Othello is thinking that if Desdemona will lie to her father, she may lie to him. This begins to affect Othello’s image of himself he begins to have self-esteem issues, and because of his own insecurities, it is easy for Othello to believe that Desdemona would be unfaithful.

Othello states his reasons that Desdemona would be unfaithful: “Maybe, because I am black, and don’t have those soft parts of conversation”. Clearly, Othello is not secure in being a black man. He even uses figurative language to hint that he is insecure in being black. He compares Desdemona’s unfaithfulness to his own black face, saying “Her name, that was as fresh as Dian’s visage, is now begrimed and black as mine own face”. After making the comment that Desdemona’s face is as grimy and black as his own, it is clear that Othello is not happy with being black. Shakespeare uses this comparison of Desdemona’s black face as a stain to her character. While Othello tries to make up for his past wrongs, he can’t help but accuse Desdemona of her own all because of what Iago has tricked him into believing.

This reflects how confused he is, wanting to believe his wife yet falling into lago’s trap and throwing accusations at her without merit. He admits that he is not sure what to believe, and plays right into Iago’s deception. All in all, Shakespeare articulates the conflict between Iago and Othello in a way that only the reader can know there’s a conflict of interest between the two. Othello is completely oblivious to Iago’s lies and deception, which is exactly what Iago has intended. He lies to Othello repeatedly, and turns him against his wife with ease, overall showing how detrimental trust can be when not Othello fails to use critical thinking and examine the situation for himself.

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Trust and Deceit in Othello, a Play by William Shakespeare. (2023, Feb 17). Retrieved from

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