Many of us have heard the saying that too much of a good thing is not good for us. The literary masterpiece “Othello” by William Shakespeare is a perfect example of why this saying is true. In Shakespeare’s play, Othello is the well-respected general of the Venetian army, but he soon begins to lose his reputation due to his blind trust in Iago, who manipulates him to become a jealous and erratic man. In the end, Othello’s decline is caused by his overly trusting nature.
In Acts I and II, Othello is a brave and honest leader that everyone looks up to. He holds himself to high standards, as suggested by his reaction to Iago saying that he should hide from Desdemona’s father when Brabantio finds out about the marriage: “Not I. I must be found. / My parts, my title and my perfect soul / shall manifest me rightly” (1. 2. 30-32). He shows his honesty by explaining to Brabantio how Desdemona would listen to his stories of war, and how she admires Othello’s bravery and eventually falls in love with him.
This evidence supports that Othello is brave and honest because instead of avoiding his new wife’s enraged father, he is calm enough to face Brabantio and explain what happened. Unfortunately, with good traits comes bad ones, and Othello’s bad traits begin to shine through Othello’s downfall initiates in Act III when he doubts his wife’s fidelity due to his unquestioning trust in Iago. He becomes increasingly jealous as Iago continues to plant evidence that Desdemona is cheating.
Unfortunately, Othello never seems to fully question Iago’s honesty which is obvious when he says, “And for I know thou’rt full of love and honesty / and weigh’st thy words before thou giv’st them” (3. 3. 123-124). As Act III progresses, Othello allows Iago’s lies to soak into his brain and take over his every thought, saying that he would rather Desdemona sleep with an entire army without him knowing than to know she was sleeping with one person. Othello’s rage is further incited when Iago fabricates a tale about sharing a bed with Cassio and overhearing him mutter about an affair with Desdemona.
By the time Act III is over, Othello is completely convinced of his wife’s disloyalty and enraged. All of this turmoil could have been avoided if Othello wasn’t of such trusting nature. According to Owiso Othera, who plays Othello in Folger Theatre’s play, Othello “believes the best in people, and trusts that people will hold up their side of the bargain” (FolgerLibrary). This overwhelming trust that Othello has for Iago leads to his eventual demise. Othello’s trust causes im to continue to decline mentally and physically in the fourth and fifth acts.
In Act IV when referring to his wife sleeping with Cassio, Othello says, “I tremble at it. Nature / would not invest herself in such a shadowing passion / without some instruction” (1. 30-32). Othello then falls into an epileptic fit, which the audience soon learns is the second one he’s had in just two days, showing his physical deterioration. His mental decline is again accelerated by Iago when he gets Cassio to talk about his affair with Bianca.
Othello thinks Cassio is talking about Desdemona and the things he hears Cassio say makes his blood boil beyond comprehension. He begins to plot both Cassio and Desdemona’s murders. Only after he kills Desdemona does he realize that she was being truthful all along. The guilt that he has for murdering her drives him to commit suicide, and the great Othello falls once and for all. Othello is obviously not thinking clearly near the end of the play. He blindly accepts everything that Iago says, and doesn’t pause long enough to think that the evidence does not match up.
He is so out of his mind that he murders his own wife because of his jealousies and insecurities brought along by deceit, and when he realizes he was wrong, it proves fatal for him as well. `Othello’s misguided trust in Iago is what causes him to gradually deteriorate until his death in the final act. He begins as the proud leader of an army, and Iago slowly strips Othello of his honor using his own reputation of being an honest person to his advantage. The most important lesson that a reader must take from this play is that not everyone can be trusted, even if we think they are on our side. ?