Othello - The Moor and Ensign Term Paper

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In life, one can be significantly affected by his or her encounters with others. Often times, certain individuals gain great control over another's fate. His or her control can lead to a positive or negative change to the person's behavior. If negative, the drastic change may lead to a tragic downfall. In William Shakespeare's Othello, Othello's fortune was severely affected by his encounter with Iago.

In the tragedy, Othello is initially viewed as a rational character. He is called the "˜valiant Moor' by many, and is known for his confidence and strength. For example, when accused of witchcraft by Brabantio, Othello remains quiet and fully respects his father-in-law's notion. Instead of becoming angry with him, Othello simply requests that Brabantio speak to his daughter to confirm his assumption. For this and many other noble acts, Othello was greatly honored.

Unfortunately, some did not associate such great attributes with Othello. After Othello chose Michael Cassio as his lieutenant, Iago, Othello's ensign, was immersed in jealousy. Iago did not feel Othello was a righteous general. He believed that Othello chose Cassio because of personal preference not military performance. Therefore, this led Iago to devise a plan of revenge that would soon change the lives of Othello and all those who surrounded him.

Iago schemed a way to convince Othello that his wife, Desdemona, was having an affair with Cassio. He entangled Othello in an intricate web of misleading lies making it seem as if Desdemona had given Cassio a handkerchief, which was symbolic of their marriage. In Act 4, Scene 1, Iago proclaims "Work on, My medicine, Thus credulous fools are caught, and many worthy and chaste dames even thus, All guiltless, meet reproach.-What ho! My lord! My lord! I say. Othello!" Thus, by planting seeds of doubt into Othello's mind Iago uncovered insecurities that were once hidden by Othello's shield of trust and respect.

Othello's unexpected change led to his downfall. He was no longer the rational and noble general introduced at the beginning of the play. On the contrary, he was now a man who made rash decisions on impulse and who had a heart made of stone. Othello's disposition was entirely changed. He was a jealous monster. His ability to reason vanished. Othello misinterpreted the innocent actions of his loved ones. In addition, he had the audacity to slap his wife across the face and call her a whore. Subsequently, he made it his mission to kill Desdemona and Cassio.

It was undoubtedly Iago's actions which led Othello to his downfall. Consequently, he was duped into killing his wife. And, after realizing that his dreadful deed was an effect of his ensign's jealousy, he took his own life. Unfortunately, Othello's tragic ending is a great example of the ability one person has to destruct and radically alter another's fate.

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