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Appearance vs Reality and the Theme of Deception in Othello

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Aashwi Bhatt

on 17 July 2015

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Transcript of Appearance vs Reality and the Theme of Deception in Othello

Appearance vs Reality in Othello
Raibrinder and Aashwi
About the Character
• Is a very important symbol that portrays the key ideas of these themes
• Is known to be deceptive, as with Othello
• Hides behind a facade of truth and honesty while being the complete opposite in reality
• Many people only notice that his biggest deception happens with Othello, but as the story progresses, we see that his character is really never truthful to anyone else either. For ex., his false friendship with Roderigo and Cassio whilst he is merely using them, him hiding important facts from Emilia, his care towards Desdemona

Quote #1
 “I am not what I am” (I . i . 67)
Talking to Roderigo about his hatred for Othello
Tells Roderigo that he is not who he appears to be, in terms of Othello
Strong belief that those who decieve go forward in life
Only with Othello for his own selfish reasons; does not actually care for him
Quote #2
“Thus do I ever make my fool my purse.”
(I . iii . 374)
Here Iago is talking about how he feels Roderigo is a fool, and how he can use that to his advantage
Manipulates Roderigo into thinking that if he sells his land and makes money out of it, Desdemona will fall for him
In reality, he just wants to steal Roderigo's money
Quote #3
"What are you hurt, lieutenant?" (II . iii . 247)
Here, we see that Iago is acting like he is concerned for Cassio, when in reality, it is an act
He is the one who instigated Cassio to get drunk and start a fight in order to make him look like a fool in front of Othello
Is deceiving him so that he may steal his title
Secondary Source Analysis
About the Character
• A character who is believed to be deceptive by others, when in reality she is ignorant to what is happening around her
• It is not just Othello who believes she is deceitful; it is believed by Iago and Cassio, who believe it is in a woman’s nature to be deceitful, and by her own father, Brabantio, who feels that because she has deceived him, she will go on to deceive others as well

Quote #1
 “Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see, She has deceived her father, and may thee” (I . iii . 94-95)
Brabantio believes that because Desdemona cheated him, she will do the same to Othello
He again alludes to the fact that women are the cause of evil and because of this, it is certain that Desdemona will be deceitful
We know this to be untrue because she did not really cheat her father
Quote #2
 “She must change for youth. When she is sated with his body she will find the errors of her choice. Therefore, put money in thy purse.” (I . iii . 347-349)
Iago believes women are shallow and only marry for sex
Therefore, Desdemona will soon lose interest in Othello and look for someone else
We as readers know Desdemona is faithful, and is only perceived to be deceitful by the males in this play
Quote #3
 “She did deceive her father, marrying you, And when she seemed to shake and fear your looks, She loved them the most.” (III . iii . 210-212)
Iago is reinforcing Brabantio's view of women; if she deceives one, she is liable to deceive everyone
He also states that when she acted like she feared Othello, thats when her love for him grew the most, accentuating the theme of appearance vs reality
Again untrue because we know it is not in her nature to be unfaithful
Secondary Source Analysis
About the Character
Throughout the play, it is seen that Cassio is loyal to his general, Othello. Cassio is a young, handsome, and friendly man. Consequently it makes him a target of Iago’s master plan, as Iago uses Cassio to play with the emotions of Othello. He does this by getting both Cassio and Desdemona close together, so Othello can think they are having an affair.
“Iago: she gives it out that you shall marry her. Do you intend it?
Cassio: Ha, ha, ha!
Othello: Do ye triumph, roman? Do you triumph?
Cassio: I marry her! What? A customer? Prithee bear some charity to my wit. Do not think it so unwholesome. Ha, ha, ha!” (IV. i . 200)

Cassio and Othello are both being manipulated by Iago
To Cassio, he is talking to Iago about Bianca the prostitue
TO Othello, Cassio is talking about Desdemona
Again highlights the theme of appearance vs. reality
Secondary Source Analysis
“The most conspicuous irony is Othello thinking Iago is “honest” and Desdemona is not “honest”” (Heilman 46). It appeared to Othello that Iago was honest but in reality he was trying to bring about the downfall of Othello. This is ironic because the reader knows that Iago was never honest to anyone and just manipulated them to achieve what he wanted. Iago was never telling the truth. In the end Iago’s deception caused Othello to destroy himself.
When Brabantio tells Othello to keep an eye on Desdemona he thinks nothing of it until he later when he thinks that Desdemona is cheating on him. “Othello’s growing intentions of keeping an eye on Desdemona is in effect commented on when he complains of” a pain upon my forehead” and she replies, “faith, that’s with watching” (3.3 284-285) what he says has two meanings while what Desdemona is not”(Heilman 258). It is shown that Desdemona is appeared to Othello of being guilty of cheating on him while in reality she is unaware of what Othello means.
Cassio is the target of Iago because he stole his position as lieutenant “Being passed over for promotion to the lieutenancy in favour of Cassio” (Wood). It is apparent that Iago is using Cassio to get at Othello where he is most vulnerable. Cassio is the second in command which means Othello will trust him with everything. Although Othello’s trust in Cassio is broken when he gets drunk, he is fired as according to Iago’s plan and then eventually Othello wants Cassio killed .Cassio is deceived by Iago in a way that he is being accused of having an affair with Othello’s wife, Desdemona.
Thus, it is evident that William Shakespeare uses the characters of Iago, Desdemona, and Cassio to portray the themes of appearance vs. reality and deception.
Heilman, Robert Bechtold. Magic in the Web; Action & Language in Othello. Lexington: U of Kentucky, 1956. Print. 12 July 2015

Shakespeare, William, and John Crowther. No Fear Shakespeare: Othello. New York: Spark, 2003. Print.

Wood, Sam. "Where Iago Lies: Home, Honesty And The Turk In Othello." Early Modern Literary Studies 14.3 (2009): 12. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 14 July 2015.

Zender, Karl F. "The Humiliation Of Iago." Studies In English Literature (Rice) 34.2 (1994): 323. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 15 July 2015.

Appearance vs. Reality is a common theme used in novels today, in which some characters are not what they seem to be. Similarly, one of the most prominent themes in Othello is the theme of appearance vs. reality, which goes alongside the topic of deception.
Thesis & Mapping Statement
William Shakespeare showcases the themes of deception and appearance vs reality through the characters of Iago, Desdemona, and Cassio. We will be analyzing each of these characters and how they relate to these themes.
Our Topic
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