Act III, Scene III is one of the most important and influential scenes in this play; as this is the scene where Iago is shown to successfully manipulate Othello into believing that Desdemona has been cheating on him with Cassio. This is significant to the rest of the play as it affects everything Othello, the protagonist, thinks, feels, and says from this point onwards towards others. While beginning as a reputable general, he develops into just the opposite, swearing revenge on his wife. Given the length of Act III, Scene III, it’s importance is reflected by the amount of development and maturation throughout.During this act, we begin to see the importance of manipulation as a central theme, as the plot genuinely starts to advance as Iago plants his seeds of suspicion in Othello’s mind.
This erupts the chaos encompassing the play as we see Iago put into action the plans he spoke of earlier through soliloquies and asides. In Act III, Scene III, just as Cassio hasten out of the room, Iago says, “Ha! I like not that” (33). This is said to arise suspicion in Othello’s mind as it makes Cassio seem guilty of sleeping with Desdemona. Once this has been said, Iago leaves Othello to ponder the various diabolical meanings provided within this short statement, which causes him to be agitated and irritable. Although on line 93, Othello tells Iago, “No, Iago, I’ll see before I doubt, when I doubt, prove, And on the proof there is no more but this: Away at once with love or jealousy!” Which displays the distrust Othello feels toward Iago’s statements regarding Desdemona and Cassio. By the end of Scene III, Othello lets the rumored affairs provoke him, transforming Othello into a vulgar and crude man, calling his wife a “lewd minx.
” This is a clear influence of Iago in Othello who now seems more violent. Toward the end of the scene, the decided plan of action will be for Othello to kill both Cassio and Desdemona, we know this as he says, “I will withdraw to furnish me with some swift means of death for the fair devil” (485). This is linked to the rest of the play on account of that we now see Iago’s plan starting to work, as he’s manipulated Othello enough to believe that Iago is to be trusted, and Desdemona and Othello’s statements are inconceivable. Iago’s manipulation of Othello in Act III, Scene III best captures the state of tumult prevalent in the play. If the tête-à-tête between Iago and Othello had not been added into the play, the ending would curtail much differently than what had happened in canon. An example of Iago’s skillful manipulation is the way he persuades Othello of Desdemona’s infidelity.
By using various techniques to do this, he appears to let on more than he knows, making Othello want to feed his suspicion. There are also points when fate plays a part in the proceedings, such as when Iago receives a Desdemona’s handkerchief, which was Othello’s first gift to Desdemona. Iago then tells Othello that Cassio had dropped it, which is the proof that Othello had requested. Iago then went on to fabricate a dream he said Cassio had of Desdemona in which Cassio started saying, “sweet Desdemona, let us be wary, let us hide our loves,” (428) this completely enraged Othello, while Iago appeared to be getting a kick out of everything that was going on. Iago’s skillful trickery strives from his bigoted outlook on race.
Throughout the novel, racism plays a critical role in persuading Othello that he’s not suitable to be married to his wife, Desdemona. Iago refers to Othello as “an old black ram” and “an erring barbarian” to weaken Othello’s self-image and consider himself as less important due to his skin color. His insecurities solidify his feeling of unworthiness towards Desdemona. Iago states, “She did deceive her father, marrying you,” (211) warning Othello that his wife would leave him much like she had done with her father.
Iago is quick to point out Othello’s cultural differences in an attempt to make him feel insecure similar to an outsider, which is revealed in the quote, “They dare not show their husbands; their best conscience/ Is not to leave’t undone, but keep’t unknown,” (209). Iago is warning Othello to not be taken advantage of by being completely trusting or completely distrusting towards Desdemona, which is paradoxical as Iago is maliciously gaining Othello’s trust for power. At this point, Othello has completely given up and lost faith in Desdemona. This is conveyed through his line, “Farewell the tranquil mind! Farewell content!/ Farewell the plumèd troops and the big wars/ That makes ambition virtue! Oh, farewell!” (358) which is clear indication of the distress Othello feels. To make this scene stand out among the others, Shakespeare has been shrewd with his dramatic elements and his use of them, particularly in the way people enter and exit, for example, when Cassio exits hurriedly leaving Desdemona, Othello begins to wonder why he had left so swiftly, serving as a reason to feel distrust between his wife and the accused paramour.
There is also the matter of timing when characters speak, causing a great amount of dramatic intensity. As mentioned earlier, the length of the scene is notable to the rest of the play as it allows time enough for Iago to put his plan into action and to work Othello’s trust. The crucial part of dramatic techniques within soliloquies and asides is when a character reveals their innermost thoughts and feelings, which leads to dramatic irony as the audience are already aware of plans and actions to be undertaken. In conclusion, the fact that so many significant and crucial events take place in Act III, Scene III prove that it is climacteric to the rest of the play, as it starts to develop the plot and themes we have seen growing throughout earlier scenes. This is the scene in which we see such a tremendous change in Othello.
Othello’s tragic choices after this scene leave many dead, leading to his own torture and downfall.