Othello Act V Summary Response
- In Act Five of Shakespeare’s Othello, Iago raises more questions about his true motives for plotting Othello’s downfall. Iago has succeeded in deceiving Othello to the point where Othello is burning for revenge. While Othello plotted the deaths of Cassio and Desdemona, Iago had strong desire to kill Cassio and after begging for permission, Othello granted him the honor. Iago passed the duty to Roderigo by manipulating him into thinking the murder would help him in his quest to win Desdemona. While attempting to carry out this task, Roderigo is killed and Cassio is only injured. Othello took inspiration from Iago’s audacity and concluded that he must kill Desdemona immediately. Othello completed the murder quickly, however the action ended up revealing the truth of Iago’s deception. Shakespeare made Iago from Othello a very complex character who could have had several motives for revenge upon Othello, only some of which he verbalized.
- Othello, by Shakespeare, accurately portrays how a character can have underlying motives for their actions. Iago’s deep hatred of Othello was rooted in his unrequited romantic love for Othello.
- Claim 1:
- Iago’s hatred of Othello seems to have begun when Othello denied him the position of lieutenant, instead that rejection fanned the already burning fire. Iago was then consumed by his need for revenge, causing him to devise a plan for Othello’s demise. This plan was almost completed when Othello fell prey to Iago’s deceptions and killed his wife, Desdemona. All of Iago’s hard work was ruined when his wife, Emilia, revealed Iago’s lies. Up until that point, Othello had believed that Iago was faithful to him, not trying to ruin his life, nor making him question his sanity. Emilia tried to defend Desdemona’s honor by revealing Iago’s fabrications, but this only resulted in anger from Othello and Iago both.
- In his fury, Iago exclaimed “Villainous whore… Filth, thou liest!” (Shakespeare 5.2 273,276)
- Iago’s misogynistic words and actions are repeated throughout the entire play. Iago not only treats Emilia like a tool, he only kept around as long as she is useful. He is also very disrespectful towards Desdemona. The misogyny only further proves Iago’s homosexuality. Iago hated women because they were the only ones standing in the way of his happiness, with Othello. Iago seems to take great pleasure in the unhappiness present in Othello’s marriage and strives to make it permanent. The very first step of Iago’s vengeful plan was to inform Desdemona's father of her affair and elopement with Othello. Iago has done nothing but sabotage their relationship. He may not be aware of his subconscious desires, but he makes it undeniably sure that Othello is not able to achieve happiness in his romantic endeavors, because Iago cannot in his. Thus proving Iago’s homosexuality.
- Counterclaim 1:
- On the other hand, Iago had a wife, contradicting the possibility that he is homosexual.
- After Othello has killed Desdemona, Emilia tried to persuade Othello that Desdemona never cheated on him. When Othello informed her that Iago was the one who first suspected Desdemona of cheating, Emilia was astounded that Iago never told her about his suspicions. This news sparked suspicions of Iago in Emilia’s mind.
- Evidence: In disbelief she exclaimed, “ My husband?” (Shakespeare 5.2 171)
- A possible motive for Iago’s revenge on Othello is Iago’s romantic interest in Othello, however Iago has a wife. Thus, Iago cannot be homosexual because he has a partner of the opposite sex, countering the very definition of homosexual.
- A common view is that Iago vowed to take revenge upon Othello because he demoted Iago, another viewpoint is that Iago is in love with Othello and therefore wants to destroy his happiness. Revenge because of betrayal is a plausible reason for Iago’s actions, but upon analysis of his behavior towards Othello, it is also reasonable to say that Iago is in love with Othello. William Shakespeare's Othello accurately portrays the level of unconscious sexual impulses that can affect a character's behavior and sanity.