Power and Control in Othello

In modern society, there are instances where one person has power over another. It is found in professions, school, and everyday life. What is meant by control is having some sort of influence in the way you act, make money, or are seen by others. This in no way means that someone completely owns another person. Power and control of others can be found by lying to others for benefits, men taking a higher role than women, and higher-ranked people taking control of lower-ranked people. In Othello, written by William Shakespeare, power is a recurring theme that demonstrates how some characters have power and control over others.

In the novel, Iago is one of the main characters and is also known as very persuasive and manipulative. The book revolves around his plan to take Cassio’s job as lieutenant. Although Iago is the only one with this goal in mind, the character Roderigo also plays a part in the play. Roderigo is madly in love with Desdemona (Othello’s wife) and will do anything in the world to be with her, even pay Iago. Iago strikes a deal with Roderigo for money. Iago says to Roderigo, “Put but money in thy purse (1.3.389).

Iago repeats this to Roderigo multiple times, to ensure that he will get the money. Although the novel never directly explains why Iago wants money from Roderigo, one can assume that there really isn’t a reason. Iago just likes having the money and finds it as another way to benefit himself. It becomes apparent that Iago thinks of Roderigo as his “minion or someone who Iago can exploit for money. Iago makes Roderigo believe that Iago can get Desdemona to love Roderigo.

This ties back in with Iago being a manipulator by giving false hope to Roderigo. Iago uses lying as a manipulative way to convince Roderigo to pay him. One can assume that Roderigo does not like Othello as he’s married to Desdemona, and Roderigo is in love with Desdemona. Iago tells Roderigo, “Thou art sure of me. Go make money. I have told thee often, and I re-tell thee again and again, I hate the Moor. My cause is hearted: thine hath no less reason. Let us be conjunctive in our revenge against him (I.3.408-411).

The reason it was so easy for Iago to get money from Roderigo was because he lied about what his plan really was. Instead of telling Roderigo that he only really wanted to lieutenant job, he instead convinced him that he only wanted to get rid of Othello to get Roderigo with Desdemona. He tells Roderigo to pay him for helping him get Desdemona to fall in love with him.

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