The Theme(s) of Deception (Hypocrisy, Betrayal + False appearances) - Othello The Theme The theme of deception is the most prevalent and obvious theme of the entire play. The whole plot revolves around Iagos deception of many characters. What to discuss. This theme will offer a wide range of discussion topics: Characters (those who deceive & are deceived) Relationships that are based on deception. Symbols of deception. The progression of the plot. The atmosphere within the play. Entertainment
The opening scene The opening scene abounds in deception (Mainly on the part of Iago!!) Within a few moments we learn that nothing is as it seems in Venice: First imp ressions ALWAYS count. I follow him to serve upon my turn. who, trimmd in forms and visages of duty, keep yet their hearts attending on themselves, and throwing but shows of service on their lordsthese fellow have some soul. o c i g e
t a r t This is s akespe Sh f o t r a p te a i d In following him, I follow but myself. e m This im m t
a n a s create d n a y r e t Sir, you are robbed!. of mys e h w y r treache it s s a
s i e l tt li I must show out a flag and sign of love! be. O she deceives me. (Brabantio) h t s t e s s hi e n o
l a e t o Iago u l q u s f i r h e T w o p a e
s h t t ac o t n i t o g h g a i I f Iago is an exceptionally deceitful ins o r e
t c a r a h c character. When devils will their blackest sins put on, they do suggest at first with heavenly shows, as I do now. What is more is that Iago swears to the two-faced God Janus ks a e p s l o
b m y s By Janus, I think no. s e i r h a T s e ti i e d s i H
. s e volum . e v i e c e od h w e s o th o g a I
, This is reinforced as y l r a Simil r e tt u s he describes those he admires a h or f t c e p s
re t u p o h those w ows h s who, trimmd in forms e s l a f on r o f y t l
a y and visages of duty, of lo . n i a g l a rson e p and throwing but shows of service on theirelords its m d a (+h these fellow have some soul. his
( and such a one I do profess myself ) duplicity!!!) Atmosphere Shakespeare NEEDS to conjure up an atmosphere of treachery for a play that relies on it for the entire plot. The reference to the two-faced Janus creates such a treacherous and deceitful atmosphere. This is reinforced with The Spider Spiders are synonymous with deception, trickery and traps. Iago comments that with as little a web as this will I ensnare as Cassio. great a fly as An appropriately dark and deceptive atmosphere creeps into the play as a result. What is more is that it acts as plot progression. Othello,
Roderigo and Cassio will all voluntarily walk into their friends trap and become STUCK!!!) Iago and Roderigo This is the first relationship that the audience witnesses. On the surface it looks to be a strong and cooperative one: If thou canst cuckold him, thou doest thyself a pleasure, me a sport. In addition we get the impression that Iago is almost like a father to the young Venetian offering paternal advice on the issue of love: No more of this drowning do you hear? However we learn quite swiftly that this is one of many relationships based on deception and hypocrisy as Iago announces smugly: Thus do I ever make my fool my purse. (Put money in thy purse; follow these wars) He also derides the young man as: This poor trash of Venice. This reaches its pinnacle when Iago eventually slays
the poor lovesick fool: O murderous slave! O villain! Iago and Othello Obviously on the exterior this is a relationship where the subordinate Iago publically declares much love for his general: I humbly do beseech you of your pardon, for too much loving you. However, this relationship is one of the most deceitful in the history of all literature. Iago points out how: I follow him to serve my turn upon him; and that Though I do hate him as hells painsI must show out a flag and sign of love. n o ti p e
c e d e e h t h s t e s i s m t o t ! i o e
l p n e o p f l l a e s s o t m n i Iag Iago h two stateme e r
i e s t e f o en in t h l al Desdemonas infidelity: She gave it to him, and he hath given it to his whore. Cassios betrayal: In sleep I heard him say, Sweet Desdemona, let us be wary, let us hide our loves. The entire affair is deception!: A handkerchief did I today see Cassio wipe his beard with.
Iago and Cassio As the play progresses we see that Iago becomes Cassios confidante and advisor in relation to his shredded relationship with the general. Cassio speaks in a complimentary manner to Iago (You advise me well ) to which the latter responds: I protest in the sincerity of love and honest kindness. a e k i l S d M n E a E S
g n o str ing p i h s r ca tion a l e r He is disgusted at Cassios promotion of lieutenant: One Michael Cassio, a Florentinemere prattle without practise. We already know that Iago is plotting the downfall of his apparent friend: As little a web as this will snare as great a fly as
Cassio. What is more is that he is the entire cause of Cassios downfall during the play: Do you find some occasion to anger Cassio, wither by speaking too loud, or tainting his disciplineprovoke him. [This leads to the Brawl Scene] He betrays and deceives Cassio by giving him intentionally bad advice: Our generals wife is now the generalthis brawl between you and her husband entreat her to splinter. Emelia While Emelia is generally accepted as being wholly innocent of her husbands wicked plot; she nonetheless becomes an accessory to it due to her role in the stealing of the handkerchief: I am glad to have found this napkinmy wayward husband hath a hundred times wood
me to steal it. Emelia MUST share a portion of the guilt here as she deceives Desdemona for the sake of her illminded husband. When questioned on its whereabouts, she lies: I know not, madam. This is also an act of betrayal as Emelia knows that Desdemona loves the token. Roderigo Roderigo is a character that is known for being gullible and is unfortunately on the receiving end of some of the most flagrant deception in the whole play. However, we see at the climax of the play that this fool learns to adapt in this world of deception. Roderigo plays a crucial role in the confirmation of Iagos evil. The letters that are found in Roderigos pocket prove Iagos is as treacherous and wicked as Emelia declared: Now heres another discontented paper, found in his
pocket too, and this, it seems, Roderigo meant to have sent this damned villain. Roderigo has recognised Iagos deception and used his own deception. He has devised a safety mechanism. One must ask WHY would anybody carry around such an incriminating document? It would seem that Roderigo has come to recognise the world of deception and he himself deceives Iago!! Desdemona Desdemona is not innocent of deception in this play. Iago justifiably points out that: She did deceive her father , marrying you. In addition, in her dying moments she also attempts to deceive the members of the court by claiming trying to exonerate Othello: Nobody, I myself. Farewell.
BUT! The major difference between Desdemona and all other characters is that she deceives for virtuous and positive reasons: 1) Love for Othello; 2) The hope that her beloved husband may escape punishment. (She even forgives him!!! Why does she die? Iago informs us that Desdemona: Shes framd as fruitful as the free elements. Desdemonas death serves as a symbolic representation of the actions of Iago; Innocence and purity drown in his sea of poisonous betrayal. It also acts as a theatrical device; her death is the most tragic and underscores Iago as the villain. Conclusion Characters:
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