Othello as a Tragedy of Intrigues
Othello is most painfully exciting and the most terrible of all Shakespearean tragedies. It begins with external conflict, but the conflicts soon internalized and get a peep into the suffering soul of the tragic hero. His intense suffering grows more and more intense right from the temptation scene up to the very end where we see the tragic loading of Desdemona’s bed. Evil is displayed before him. He sees it almost irresistible.
Othello is a play which is full of intrigues. In no other play of Shakespeare, we find such a plot in which the good souls are caught in the meshes of the net cast over them by Satan like human being. Othello wanted to see his foot to find whether he is actually a devil or not. In this tragedy, the hero is a man of loving heart with a genuine faith in the human qualities. Even when he was led to believe that Desdemona had been corrupted by Cassio, he demanded ocular proof only for his faith in man. Similarly, Desdemona, a woman with a pure heart, could never suspect Lago not for his power to beguile man but for her simple trust in man.
The very beginning of the play, we see that lago uses Roderigo as his tool. Roderigo is a fool and is easily duped by lago. He uses his purse freely as if it were his own, always promising that he was spending his money to give presents to Desdemona and in course of time he would certainly enjoy her. Through this foolish tool, he tries to spoil the marriage bliss of Desdemona and Othello. He incites him to awaken Brabantio, tell him of the elopement of his daughter and also of the place where she was to be found. Lago taunts him (Brabantio) by saying– “I am one sir, that comes to tell your daughter and the moor are making the beast with backs”.
Lago knows that Roderigo is a rejected suitor of Desdemona and extracts money from him by inspiring him with false hopes of gaining Desdemona. When Roderigo becomes impatient and begins to doubt him, he so arranges matters that he stabs Cassio in the dark and lago himself fatally stabs him, so that he may not live to tell any tales. But unfortunately certain papers are discovered on the person of Roderigo which reveal his full villainy.
Next we find lago is jealous of Cassio and has a grudge against him. He thinks that he himself is a better soldier. But Othello has appointed him as his lieutenant while he continues to be mere ancient. He decides to take revenge upon Cassio for this insult. Besides this, Cassio has a beauty in his daily life, which is intolerable to him. Therefore, he intrigues to bring about his downfall.
Even then he is not satisfied and intrigues to remove Cassio from the scene. Moreover, he suspects Cassio to have a secret relation with his wife. He also afraid of Roderigo that one day he might disclose his intrigue to Othello. Next, he insights Roderigo to stop Cassio in the dark night, and he places Roderigo behind the wall of a house with instructions to kill Cassio as he passes by that way.
Further, we see that lago wants to spoil the conjugal happiness of Othello and Desdemona by hatching an intrigue. Seeing Othello’s excessive love for Desdemona, he becomes jealous and plans to ruin it. He uses Cassio as his tool. He excites Othello’s suspicion and jealousy by giving false reports of Desdemona’s love for and undue intimacy with Cassio. Lago advises Othello to remove the sense of jealousy from his mind. He says:
“Beware, my lord, of jealousy.
It is the green monster, which doth mock.”
Such are the various intrigues of lago. It is these intrigues which bring about the catastrophe. In the other tragedies, the dramatist has introduced the supernatural but here he has introduced the fiend-like lago, who causes the tragedy. Therefore, Othello has rightly been called a tragedy of intrigue.