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Othello Revision Guide

THEME: Manipulation of language

OVERVIEW: Manipulation of language is key throughout the play and happens in various places along the narrative such as Desdemonas first break from her father, Iagos manipulation of Roderigo and Iagos final deception of Othello. Most of this manipulation is highly rhetoric, and intended to sway other characters, often by means of trickery and dishonesty on Iagos part.

Key Points: Desdemona uses a keen rhetoric in her break from her father, manipulating his feelings toward her by likening her situation to that of her mothers. This is of course something that Brabantio is unable to argue with as the loss of a daughter is an inevitability.
o My noble father, I do perceive here a divided duty: To you I am bound for life and education;/My life and education both do learn me/How to respect you; you are the lord of duty;/I am hitherto your daughter. but here's my husband,/And so much duty as my mother show'd/To you, preferring you before her father

A further manipulation of language occurs between Iago and Roderigo, in which Iago appeals to what Roderigo desires most: Desdemona. He denotes Othellos connection to her as nothing but lust, bringing reference to a simple desire for sport. He implies that Desdemona is simply using Othello for his sexual appeal and will soon amend her ways: o It is merely a lust of the blood and a permission of the will. o When she is sated of his body she will find the error of her choice Iago repeats the phrase Put money in thy purse to Roderigo. It is almost as a motivation to go forth and take what he believes is his, an assertion. o Put money in thy purse. Follow thous these wars; defeat thy favour with an usurped beard. I say, put money in thy purse. It cannot be that Desdemona continue her love to the Moor put money in thy purse o His repetition is almost a rallying call to Roderigo, one to stir him in to action against Othello and attempt to cuckold him. Iago is assuring Roderigo of the validity of his advice. Iago uses his manipulative rhetoric to such effect, he is able to convince Othello of Desdemonas treachery even by use of the same argument she used too assure here dedication to him: o She did deceive her father, marrying you o This manipulation of the truth in Iagos language helps him to sway Othello against his wife. o But he that filches from me my good name/Robs me of that which enriches him/And makes me poor indeed

Iagos reference here to the idea of identity and reputation is pandering to Othellos desires, making the case through his language that he who steals my purse, steals trash in comparison to someone taking his reputation, thus Othello is encouraged to feel more anger towards Cassios threat to his status.