Friendship is a special bond between two or more people. This relationship is built on the basis of trust, loyalty and honesty. In the play Othello, Shakespeare demonstrates these qualities through many of his characters to portray their deep friendship. However as the play progresses these friends turn into foes as many problems occur in their friendships and lead to many tragic events. The negative qualities that tore these friendships apart are distrust, selfishness and jealousy that led many of the characters to their tragedies. In the play Othello, Shakespeare demonstrates that there are many causes of the problems that occur in certain friendships.
In Shakespeare’s Othello, many friendships showed a lack of trust, which resulted into many tragic events. This negative quality is repeatedly found in the character of Othello. Shakespeare wrote the relationship between Othello and Cassio to be that of friendship that consists of loyalty and honesty. The conflict between these two characters arose as Iago plants seeds of doubt into Othello’s mind about Desdemona’s loyalty towards him.
Othello’s trust in his friend Cassio was like a thin thread. It was very easy for Iago to succeed in his evil plans, for there was a lack of trust in their friendship. Iago manipulates Othello into believing that his honest wife Desdemona is having an affair with the loyal lieutenant Cassio. Although Iago gives no form of physical evidence, his convincing words are strong enough to allow such intense thoughts to enter Othello’s mind. As Iago states to Othello:”It is impossible you should see this,Were they as prime as goats, as hot as mnkeys,As salt as wolves in pride, and fools as grossAs ignorance made drunk.” (3.3.402-405)Iago uses such intense imagery of Desdemona and Cassio sleeping together, that it forces Othello to be enraged with such anger at Cassio’s betrayal. After falling into Iago’s trap and believing his dishonest words, Othello says”Within these three days let me hear thee sayThat Cassio’s not alive.” (3.3.472-473)All the anger and jealousy of betrayal that Othello feels, due to the mistrust between Othello and Cassio, leads Othello to plan the murder of lieutenant Cassio. The lack of trust between Othello and Cassio is also shown after the fight between Cassio and Roderigo took place. Othello’s distrust in Cassio led Othello to believe Iago’s words.
He also took the fact that Cassio was drunk as a major flaw in him and instantly dismissed him from his position as lieutenant, not giving Cassio an opportunity to defend himself in full consciousness. Othello’s distrust in Cassio is displayed when he believes that lieutenant Cassio would be at fault for a deed, which he did not intentionally commit. Othello announces,”I know, Iago,Thy honesty and love doth mince this matter,Making it light to Cassio. Cassio, I love thee;But never more be officer of mine.” (2.3.225-228)This announcement is made while Cassio is still drunk; during this time he is not in a suitable state to defend him self. The lack of trust in the relationship of Othello and Cassio leads to tragic and sorrowful events.
The Shakespearean play Othello carries many different causes of problems between the characters of the play. Many times throughout the play selfishness is displayed as a cause to many of the tragic events that occur, as many of the characters did things for their own benefit. A great amount of selfishness is shown in many of Iago’s relationships. His relationship with his wife Emilia would be well only when Emilia would do something for Iago. Although Emilia is aware of this, she is willing to do any favor for him, even picking up Desdemona’s handkerchief because Iago asked her too. Iago’s selfishness allows him to use his own wife for his evil desires of persuading Othello.
“I am glad I have found this napkin;This was her first remembrance from the Moor.
My wayward husband hath a hundred timesWoo’d me to steal it; but she so loves the token,For he conjured her she should ever keep it,That she reserves it evermore about herTo kiss and talk to. I’ll have the work ta’en outAnd give’t Iago: what he will do with itHeaven knows, not I;I nothing but to please his fantasy.” (3.3.290-299)To take his selfish plan further, Iago uses his wife Emilia’s loyalty to his own advantage. During the time Emilia kept the handkerchief in her hands, Iago’s speech towards Emilia was very different.
“A good wench; give it me.” (3.3.313)Wench is an informal word to describe a young woman. Throughout the play it is showed that Iago believed women are prostitutes and work at night. Iago’s dislike and distrust in women establishes his selfishness. Shakespeare demonstrates Iago’s selfish desires to be ranked a higher position, through many events. The character of Iago portrayed selfishness towards his friend Roderigo as well. At the beginning of the play, Iago and Roderigo’s friendship was introduced, although not much was mentioned as the play progressed. Iago advised Roderigo to send Desdemona some jewels and money, to gain Desdemona’s love. Later it is found out Iago never did present the gifts to Desdamona, but kept them for himself, and continued to use Rodrigo for his money.
“Thus do I ever make my fool my purse;For I mine own gain’d knowledge should profaneIf I would time expend with such a snipeBut for my sport and profit.” (1.3.372-375)Iago’s selfishness leads him to use Rodrigo to his benefit and advantage, not caring for the damage and emotional stress it must cost Rodrigo. Iago’s selfishness leads this friendship to Rodrigo’s own tragedy.