- Act 5 of Othello, by William Shakespeare, demonstrates how revenge drives one to cause harm and deception among those they are closest to.
- Iago’s desire has always been to exterminate Othello and he has manipulated Roderigo and Cassio in order to do so.
- However, now that the two are of no use to him, he is looking to murder them as well.
- On the streets of Cyprus at night, Iago urges Roderigo to murder Cassio through manipulation, but instead, Cassio stabs Roderigo.
- Then, Iago cuts Cassio’s leg and uses the wound as an excuse to murder Roderigo, whom he blames for the incident.
- Iago convinces Cassio that Roderigo wounded him, therefore deceiving him.
- Act 5 of Shakespeare’s Othello correctly portrays how the want for revenge can cause one to destroy their relationships with others through harmful actions and manipulation.
- When Roderigo, Cassio, Iago, and others decide to walk the streets of Cyprus late at night, another chapter of Iago’s revenge story unfolds. Iago is hoping that Roderigo will murder Cassio without any complications, but he fails and leaves Cassio uninjured, and Cassio stabs Roderigo. Iago then wounds Cassio’s leg and he cries out, so Othello, who hates Cassio, believes he is dead, and leaves satisfied.
- Iago then blames Roderigo for Cassio’s wound and refers to him as a “murd’rous slave” before stabbing him. He then claims, “I cry you mercy. Here’s Cassio hurt by villains” (Shakespeare 5.1.82).
- Iago harms Roderigo, whom he has developed a relationship with by involving him in his revenge plot, and in the process, he has manipulated Cassio into believing that Roderigo has wounded him, all in order to reach his goal of fulfilling his need for revenge by murdering Othello.
- Iago has been swallowed by the overwhelming presence of revenge and he has let it drive him to deceive and destroy.
- However, Iago shows concern about Cassio’s wound.
- Iago comforts Cassio by tending to his needs and demonstrates his unease about the cut when he says, “Marry, heaven forbid! Light, gentlemen. I’ll bind it with my shirt” (Shakespeare 5.1.86-87).
- Iago tries to help Cassio by slowing the bleeding by wrapping his leg so Cassio doesn’t parish.
- Iago is clearly upset about the injury, showing that he cares for Cassio and that his intention was not to hurt his friend.
- At first glance…
- It may seem like Iago truly cares for Cassio and whether he lives or dies. Iago seems to truly be worried about Cassio and attempts to help and support him.
- It is easy to understand how someone could interpret Iago in such a way…
- because he lends his help by binding Cassio’s leg and sitting him down in a chair in order to save Cassio’s life.
- However, this interpretation misses an important point.
- Iago does not really care for Cassio, he is just another step in his revenge plan. After Cassio has done his part in the scheme, Iago explains that he plans to murder Cassio when he says, “Now, whether he kill Cassio, or Cassio him, or each do kill the other, every way makes my gain” (Shakespeare 5.1.13-15). Since Iago’s plan no longer involves Roderigo or Cassio, he does not care whether they live or die. But, if they perish, he will gain from it either way because Roderigo cannot retaliate and Cassio cannot learn of Iago’s true intentions and respond negatively. Iago is clearly not concerned with Cassio’s life- he only wishes to gain his revenge on Othello.