My question going into this act was how was Iago going to manipulate Othello so quickly into turning on Desdemona. It’s tough to read how well Iago manipulates Othello, and even sadder to see Othello internalizing Iago’s and others ideas of him. One of the biggest themes of the play seems to be jealousy, and in this act we see Iago’s plan to destroy Othello with jealousy really start to come to fruition. He poisons Othello’s mind with jealousy, while pretending to warn him of the dangers and destruction it can cause.
O, beware, my lord, of jealousy!
It is the green eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on. That cuckold lives in bliss
Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger;
But O, what damned minutes tells he o’er
Who dotes, yet doubts; suspects, yet (strongly) lovesShakespeare, 3.3.195-200
Iago masterfully manipulates Othello into believing that Desdemona has been unfaithful using some really despicable methods. He fills Othello’s head with doubts that his relationship is unnatural because of his race. Iago points to the fact that Desdemona had many suitors of her own color and culture and denied them for Othello, and says this shows that there is something wrong with Desdemona which is why she chose him, not because she really loves him. In line 267 Othello says “and yet, how nature erring from itself-“, he questions if his relationship is natural. He delivers a soliloquy as he becomes more consumed with the idea that Desdemona was unfaithful, you can see him internalizing the racist ideologies of his society that he has successfully fought and risen above for so long. He compares himself to a toad, curses his black skin and says he lacks social skills because of his race. Iago successfully manipulates Othello into doubting his self-worth and identity after he plants seeds of jealousy about Desdemona, because like Othello said, without love in his life it is chaos.
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