All of the characters who experience misfortune in Othello
Many of William Shakespeare’s tragedies portray characters that eventually experience misfortune by the end of the play. Othello is a prime example of depicting various characters that each come to their own downfall because of a critical weakness. In the play, Othello’s mislead insecurities in his wife’s love for him, Roderigo’s foolish trusting nature, and Desdemona’s submissive naivety all illustrate Shakespeare’s usage of a critical weakness in creating each character’s own downfall.
Othello, who slowly becomes increasingly jealous of Cassio, begins to reveal his key weakness of being mislead to insecurity in his innocent wife’s love for him. Scene 3 of Act 3 is crucial as it outwardly reveals the slow but important transition of Othello’s peaceful state to one of constant insecurity, shown through the short and direct dialogue given by Othello. In the previous acts, he would rarely ask such questions; he would openly display his thoughts. However, it becomes clear that he starts to respond much differently.
He starts to demand Iago many direct questions such as, “Was not that Cassio parted from my wife? ” (3. 3. 38), and, “Why of thy thought, Iago? ” (3. 3. 108). These regard the touchy circumstance of Cassio’s apparent affair. Near the beginning of the play, despite saying that he is rude in his speech, Othello speaks convincingly about how he won Desdemona over his stories.
However, as Iago introduces Othello to the idea that Cassio may be of some harm to him by being with his wife, by responding very cunningly as he says, “For Michael Cassio, /I dare be sworn I think that he is honest. (3. 3. 137), he raises Othello’s curiosity on the subject of his wife’s faithfulness, stirring vile thoughts in his mind. A noticeable change occurs in Othello’s thoughts in that he believes to partly doubt himself in his speech, lacking those “Soft parts of conversation/ That chamberers have…” (3. 3. 280-281). This change reveals how differently he thinks of himself and it beings to imply the beginning of his misfortunate train of thought, which becomes so negative that he must kill his wife.
Othello comes to a point where he questions his own marriage by exclaiming, “Why did I marry? This honest creature doubtless/Sees and knows more, much more, than he unfolds. ” (3. 3. 258) Not only does this show how Iago’s slyness has evoked Othello’s state of mind, but it also depicts how Othello has been indirectly forced to think insecurely about Desdemona, his blameless wife. Instead of simply discussing with her about these serious matters, Othello continued to ponder deeper upon the subject, while at the same time continued to be mislead by Iago’s villainous schemes.
His doubts in his wife’s love only grew to such an extent that he did not even listen to her by allowing her one more chance to explain herself; rather he felt the need to kill her in their own wedding bed. When Othello realized his false assumptions were because of his insecurities and by being mislead by Iago, he met his own downfall by killing himself. There is no doubt that Othello had been horrendously manipulated by Iago, but he also has taken responsibility for his own actions, through his weakness of being insecure in his wife’s love.
Roderigo, from the very beginning of the play, has given the audience the very notion of him having a foolish and trusting nature. His foolishness comes from believing that Iago will actually fulfill his apparent love for Desdemona, despite knowing the villainy in his plans. In the first few lines of the play, Roderigo complains, “I take it much unkindly/ That thou Iago, who has had my purse/ As if the string were thine, shouldst know of this. ” (1. 1. 1-3) Immediately it is known that Roderigo has given Iago full control of his money and that he is resentfully complaining, yet doing nothing about it.
Roderigo has been manipulated by Iago in that he freely provided him with money, hoping to get with Desdemona. Roderigo, being the only one who knows of Iago’s sinful plans, does not act upon it; in fact he helps Iago achieve his malevolent wants, simply because of his foolish desire for Desdemona. As Iago assures Roderigo not to give up on the brilliant plan, Roderigo easily becomes convinced just by the thought of getting to be with Desdemona. He even goes as far as saying, “I’ll sell all my land. ” (1. 3. 84), showing the trust he has in Iago, and the extremes he is willing to go to.
It merely proves how easily he comes to his downfall, simply by blindly trusting him without rationalizing upon it, and in the end he is murdered by the only man he ever trusted, Iago. Roderigo’s lack of independent determination is also shown previously as he has failed to become a successful suitor to Desdemona, wherein contrast, Othello was able to make Desdemona fall in love with him. Roderigo rarely acted upon it and instead, he put all of his trust in Iago.
He was one to protest and complain about the situation, but never to take any serious action upon it. It became clear that Roderigo did not wish to perform any villainous deeds; he simply had a strong desire for Desdemona. However, Iago eventually uses his weakness to such an extent that he makes Roderigo a part of Cassio’s murder. Ironically, in the end, Roderigo finally realizes how his weakness of being overly foolish and too trusting of Iago by exclaiming his final words, “Oh, damned Iago! Oh, inhuman dog! ” (5. 1. 64).
Desdemona, the innocent wife of Othello, came to demonstrate striking submissiveness and a precarious type of naivety which brought her to an imminent and almost foreshadowed death. The early scenes of the play, however, display otherwise; before she exhibited a bold, independent personality by marrying Othello, being racially different in their Venetian society. Like Othello, she undergoes a noticeable transformation; they were in love with, showing no signs of distraught or even a hint of worry. The love between them was young and pure.
Desdemona, symbolically known as the typical white Venetian women, was perhaps too naive; she did not even realize that Othello was capable of having such jealousy towards her. When Emilia asks her if Othello is jealous, she knowingly replies, “Who, he? / I think the sun where he was born/ Drew all such humors from him. ” (3. 4. 29-30). While Othello was slowly becoming infested by Iago’s devious assertions about his wife’s infidelity, she clarifies justly that Othello does not have the capacity to become jealous in his blood; the idea seemed absurd to her.
This naivety and immature belief of Desdemona congruously intervenes with her own ability to give rationale when Othello would talk to her about her being unfaithful to him. As the play progresses, Othello becomes more jealous and doubting of Desdemona’s fidelity, and he starts to treat her harshly by addressing her as the “cunning whore of Venice” (4. 2. 93). Othello comes to a point where he slaps her in public, and it initiates the submissiveness Desdemona holds in matters of her husband’s fury towards her.
When he slaps her, she says that “she will not stay to offend [him]” (4. . 254), without even arguing why he is so angry at her. Instead of sorting things out with her husband, she simply starts to show a passive nature. It seemed as if she knew her death was to come as she tells Emilia a few scenes before the death scene, “If I do die before thee, prithee shroud me…” (4. 3. 26). Even on her death bed, when Othello enforces that she is about to die, she tries, but with weakness to not kill her.
Finally, she admits defeat and in a way accepts her defeat by saying, “Then Lord have mercy on me! (5. 2. 60). Even her final words manifest her unconditional love for Othello and she takes the entire misunderstanding upon herself. Thusly her submissive nature and her naive notions imprudently brought her downfall, and her death. Each of the three characters who brought their imminent downfalls on themselves was triggered by their crucial weaknesses. Othello, who had an open mind to being mislead into developing treacherous insecurities in his wife’s love met his downfall by firstly killing his wife, then himself.
Roderigo, a foolish natured suitor for Desdemona, blindly put his trust in Iago to such an extent that he caused his own murder by Iago himself. Lastly, Desdemona, submissive in character and naive in thought, allowed herself to fall into Othello’s vehemence, allowing him to strangle her in her own wedding sheets. All of these characters, having an identified weakness in character, all met with their misfortunate downfalls by the end of the play, supporting the very nature of this tragic story, Othello.