Reputation in Elizabethan England and Othello Essay

501 WordsSep 6, 20143 Pages
In Elizabethan England, it was viewed as a strong naval power to have a good reputation, likewise in Shakespearean Othello it is an important characteristic as it dictates the way people view you, and how you are positioned in society. Iago uses his reputation to his advantage for dishonorable purposes from the beginning of Othello until the very end, where it leads to the attainment of his primary objective to sabotage the relationship between Desdemona and Othello. Notions regarding the importance of reputation in Venetian society are raised in the first scene when Iago foreshadows his intentions concerning Othello, providing him with false evidence that he is a loyal friend: “Though I do not hate him as I do hell’s pains, yet for necessity of present life, I must show out a flag and a sign of love, which is indeed but a sign.” (I i 154-156) This emphasises the significant importance of ones reputation as Iago is gaining his good reputation with Othello & Roderigo by presenting himself as an honest & loyal character. Iago is telling Roderigo of his plans to deceive Othello, while deceiving Roderigo at the same time. This characterises Iago as a dishonest & deceptive character, contrary to what seems to be popular belief; it allows the audience to question their previous impressions of Iago, who initially appeared to be an honest and loyal character. The other characters are continually led to believe this, solely due to the reputation he has gained for himself merely for the success of his plan. The way Iago represents himself – as an honest and loyal man – is what leads to the eventual success of his plan to manipulate Othello into believing Desdemona cuckolded him. Othello begins to trust Iago; he entrusts him to take the responsibility of escorting his wife, Desdemona, to Cyprus: “My Desdemona must I leave to thee” (I iii 291) and he places trust on

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