Othello Act 2 Summary/Response
Summary: William Shakespeare’s Othello, act 2, illustrates that Iago is a dishonest man and is very manipulative just to get what he wants. He uses Roderigo as a pawn, and wears many masks to disguise his true identity. When Iago defends Cassio and “befriends” him shortly after the fight between Montano and Cassio, Iago sets up his master plan to trick Othello. One can easily see that honesty is a big theme thus far, and obviously, Iago is not an honest man.
Claim 1: Othello act 2, by William Shakespeare, correctly portrays how Iago is a very manipulative, dishonest man. His acts are ignoble and shameful, but only the readers are able to see through the eyes of Iago. In scene 3 when Michael Cassio gets into the drunken fight with Montano, he is stripped of his lieutenancy. Cassio has a lot of regret about drinking, and says that the stupid wine spoiled his reputation. Iago seizes this opportunity to trick Cassio into spending a lot of time with Desdemona to build his reputation back up, but so that it looks like the two are in love. Iago is able to do this by putting on a mask and not really showing the real him,”When devils will the blackest sins put on, they do suggest at first with heavenly shows”(Shakespeare 2.3.371-372). He relates what he is doing to an act of the devil, thus showing how deceptive and dishonest he is.
Counterclaim 1: However, one can see how Iago is actually a loving, caring man, and is completely honest. After the dangerous fight between Montano and Michael Cassio, Iago defends Cassio and comforts him after losing his lieutenancy. When Othello asks who started the fight, Iago talks up Cassio in a way, saying that it wasn’t all his fault and that Cassio is a good man. Othello knows that Iago is stretching the truth to help out Cassio’s case, “I know, Iago, Thy honesty and love doth mince this matter, Making it light to Cassio” (Shakespeare 2.3 262-264). Othello is not upset about Iago’s choice to defend Cassio, for he is only speaking his own opinion, and thinks that it is honorable that he is standing up for Cassio like that. Iago isn’t manipulative, but instead an honest man who only speaks his own opinion.
Rebuttal: At first glance, one might think that Iago is an honest and caring man that doesn’t use manipulation to get his way. This conclusion does seem compelling because one can see that Iago does truly care for Cassio and shows his loving emotions when he defends Cassio after the fight between Michael Cassio himself and Montano. This is a helpful interpretation, but it misses a very important point. One might think that Iago is an honest, caring, and loving person, when the truth is, Iago is a manipulative man who uses his evil ways to get what he wants. One can see Iago’s dishonesty when he tricks Cassio into spending more time with Desdemona, eventually with Iago’s desire for Othello to hate Cassio. Love and lieutenancy, two of the possible motives for what Iago is attempting. On the outside, Iago might seem like a friendly, warm-hearted lad who is always willing to give a helping hand, but that is a completely wrong understanding of this cruel man. Iago is a boor, feeding on others feelings to get what he wants. Iago is the face of dishonesty, as William Shakespeare signifies throughout act 2.
Conclusion: In the end, act 2 of Othello by William Shakespeare, strongly demonstrates how Iago is a fraudulent man who uses his many masks to disguise his evil. Honesty, as well as dishonesty, is an essential theme in Othello throughout the whole second act, especially with the character of Iago.