I just finished reading the Shakespearean classic, Othello. It’s a tragedy, so naturally, the further the plot progressed the more infuriated I grew. When it finally ended, I was more relieved than anything. This may surprise you, but most of my anger was directed at Othello, rather than Iago. Othello was ultimately responsible for the tragic ending.
Now that’s absurd, you may say. Iago did play the role of the puppeteer. He had a hand in every major event leading to the downfall. He convinced Cassio to drink, leading him to get drunk and behave in a way that would cause him to lose his position. Iago then convinced Cassio to seek Desdemona for help, and the caused to Othello to get jealous and so on. Yes, I’ll admit that Iago is horrible guy, but he empowered by Othello’s shortcomings.
Othello was unbelievably insecure and obstinate. Unbelievably. Iago only gave a little nudge and Othello dove off the deep end. Iago revealed his speculation about Desdemona’s unfaithfulness, and Othello accepted it as the truth. Without any concrete evidence, Othello was willing to deal out capital punishment. And he did.
Othello’s closemindedness was especially annoying. Even as the Desdemona desperately defended her innocence, Othello didn’t even consider the possibility of it. All it took was a handkerchief and a testimony from Iago (who had a false confession from Cassio), And Othello was up in arms. He was certain beyond a shadow of doubt. If it took that little to convince him, one can only wonder: why would he marry someone that he can’t trust?
Iago certainly did do a great deal to progress bring about the tragic ending, but the blame ultimately falls on Othello. Iago only played on Othello’s existing fears and insecurities. Had Othello been less insecure and more rational with his approach to the allegations against his wife, we might be looking at a different story.
“Welcome to the wonderful world of jealousy, he thought. For the price of admission, you get a splitting headache, a nearly irresistible urge to commit murder, and an inferiority complex. Yippee.”
― J.R. Ward