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Othello Analysis

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The tragedy Othello is filled with a complex web of separate conflicts that are connected with each other. The external conflicts are very obvious, such as Iago trying to replace Cassio as lieutenant and Othello's belief in Desdemona's affair. In addition to these conflicts, however, many characters in the play also face their own internal conflicts in which they have to make a choice between two opposing forces. An excellent example of this internal conflict can be found in analyzing Roderigo. Roderigo's love for Desdemona creates conflict because he faces the choice of going back to Venice since he has no money left, or staying in Cyprus because he wants to pursue Desdemona. In more general terms, Roderigo deals with the conflict of desire and trust against rationality and common sense. Although Roderigo's conflict is internal, he is influenced by people and things outside himself that causes him to take different positions on it. Iago's influence on Roderigo's decisions also emphasizes the play's theme as a whole which deals with the consequences of vulnerability.

One side of Roderigo's conflict, his love for Desdemona, is evident towards the beginning of the play. After finding out that Desdemona and Othello are married and she is, in fact, in love with him, Roderigo speaks of drowning himself. When Iago tells him he is silly for wanting to kill himself over this, Roderigo replies, "It is silliness to live, when to live is torment and then we have a prescription to die when death is our physician" (I, iii, 350-352). Roderigo's plan to kill himself because Desdemona loves Othello shows how desperate he is just to be with her. It can also be observed that Roderigo's desire for Desdemona causes him to be vulnerable to making rash decisions in the heat of the moment. Iago sees this weakness in Roderigo and is able to take advantage of it. "I say, put money in thy purse. It cannot be that Desdemona should long continue her love to the Moor - put money in thy purse - nor he his to her" (I, iii, 384-387). With this persuasion, Iago is able to convince Roderigo that there still may be a chance to be with Desdemona. At this point, Roderigo doesn't face his true internal conflict because he trusts Iago and doesn't think the plan seems irrational. Roderigo's desire continues to be portrayed in the events that take place when he and Roderigo arrive in Cyprus. When Iago tells Roderigo that he believes Desdemona will soon tire of Othello and look for something new, Roderigo replies saying, "I cannot believe that in her. She's full of most blessed condition" (II, i, 271-272). This line gives insight to Roderigo's idea that Desdemona is innocent and he believes she would never do anything wrong. The fact that he hardly sees Desdemona as human contributes to the cause of Roderigo's conflict because he can't look past his desire.

"I do follow here in the chase, not like a hound that hunts, but one that fills up the cry. My money is almost spent, I have been tonight exceedingly well cudgeled, and I think the issue will be I shall have so much experience for my pains, and so, with no money at all and a little more wit, return again to Venice" (II, iii, 384-390). Roderigo's lines at this point in the play convey that he has come to his senses which, in turn, introduces an opposing force to his desire for Desdemona. Because he is out of money and has gotten nowhere with Desdemona, he realizes how foolish it was to sell his possessions just to pursue her.

It can be observed that Roderigo's money, or lack of it, is an outside factor that affects his thinking. Unfortunately, Iago's manipulation easily overcomes Roderigo's suspicions by telling Roderigo that his task isn't hopeless, it just takes patience. Iago is able to sway Roderigo to stay in Cyprus, but after being away from Iago's influence Roderigo returns again with more doubts: "Every day thou daff'st me with some device, Iago, and rather, as it seems to me now, keep'st from me all conveniency that suppliest me with the least advantage of hope. I will indeed no longer endure it. Nor am I yet persuaded to put up in peace what already I have foolishly suffered" (IV, ii, 206-211). When Roderigo confronts Iago with these words, it is evident that his conflict has progressed. In the quotation previous to this one, Roderigo is telling Iago that the plan to win Desdemona over was simply not going to work. The next time around, however, Roderigo makes a direct attack on Iago saying that Iago is purposely tricking Roderigo. This signifies that Roderigo is beginning to realize that he has been manipulated. While Iago is able to persuade Roderigo to give it more time, Roderigo doesn't completely trust Iago as he did before. He even threatens to "seek satisfaction" with Iago if he finds out that Iago is lying. Unfortunately, Roderigo's decision in giving Iago another chance is one chance too many and ends in Roderigo's death.

While Roderigo's internal conflict can be analyzed in its own sense, it can also be used

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