Ah Shakespeare. To some you mean countless hours of torture, trying tirelessly to take the trek through the text. To others, you bring joy and comfort. Shakespeare’s works are in a class by themselves. Not only is he a genius when it comes to rhetoric and writing, but his stories are pretty entertaining too. I recently had the pleasure of reading Othello. No I didn’t put that there because my English teacher will read this, I actually enjoyed it the book. Just as a warning, this blog may contain spoilers, so for any of you who haven’t read the play, you may want to stop reading now.
This is the first time that I have read Othello, and lets just get this out of the way, Iago is the most brilliant evil mastermind of all time. After every single one of his monologues, I felt like there should be an evil laugh. He manipulates everyone without really doing much, and no one suspects him until its too late. In the play Othello, there are two possible people to blame for the tragic events: Othello and Iago.
The most obvious answer seems to be Iago. It is Iago who manipulates everyone into mistrusting each other, he is the one planting the seeds of jealousy, and he is the one who seems bent on destroying the happiness of everyone. It’s him right?
But then there’s Othello. He’s the one who chose to kill Desdemona and then himself. Iago didn’t suggest that, he just said that she cheated with Cassio. Othello is the one who decided to kill her, and then upon realizing his fatal mistake, he decided to take his own life as well.
Despite the fact that Iago manipulated everyone, and was the cause of the jealousy, I think that the blame for this tragedy ultimately falls on Othello. One could argue that without Iago’s quest for vengeance, none of this would have happened, but Othello is the one who decided to kill his wife. If he didn’t decide to kill his wife just because he thought she cheated on him, things would have turned out alright. The only person who would have died would have been Rodrigo, and lets be honest, we felt a bit sorry for him, but the play would no longer qualify as a tragedy.