Othello Characters

If we look at Othello, at first sight it may seem that it is the central character of this piece of writing because the title suggests so. However, if we have a deeper look, we can clearly notice that Iago is more influential than Othello because of the attention he draws towards himself. While Othello portrays the man of stature, Iago represents the manipulator that makes his victims act according to his desires.

Again, it may seem that these two characters are antipodes, as Othello plays the hero and Iago portrays the antagonist. But, as we progress studying these characters and their roles, we see that due to the chain of certain events both of these characters become partners in crime, and contrast between them diminishes.

Relationships between Othello and Desdemona are both fascinating and unpredictable. At first glance their connection seems to be unbreakable because they respond together to external obstacles and that reveals a significant level of passion, love, compassion and commitment towards each other. Sooner, their individual weaknesses start to appear and become apparent. They become so strong that eventually lead to tragic events. It is getting hard to identify the motivation behind their actions, so in order to understand them it is crucial to examine carefully the way they treat each other as a dynamic process.

The interaction between all the characters in “Othello” greatly influences their collective and individual behaviors, as well as character development. In fact, triangular relationships found in “Othello” show individual roles by paying attention to contrasts and comparisons. The following triangular relationships can be found in “Othello”:

  • Othello, Iago, and Desdemona – this is a triangle of the main focus that serves as the source of the primary conflict.
  • Othello, Cassio, and Desdemona – the second triangle suffers from manipulative actions of Iago and turns from love to distrust.
  • Othello, Roderigo, and Desdemona – the third triangle shows another set of qualities and emotions. Self-delusion, courtship, and romance are present here in a different configuration.

By showing the similarities and differences of all these relations, Shakespeare creates his characters and highlights various attitudes that influence and form each of the relationships. 

All these complex relations can be compared to the phonation on different musical chords. When two notes ring together, they may form a beautiful sonic harmony; however, when they are mixed with another note, the sound may turn from beautiful to awful. Such parallels are clearly applicable to the relationships described in Othello, as they remind us how attentive and aware we should always keep our relationships symphonic, but not cacophonic.


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