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Loyalty in Othello

Shakespeare’s plays are mainly concerned with the idea of loyalty. To what extent do you agree with this view? You may confine your discussion to Othello or refer to any of Shakespeare’s other plays you have studied. One of the main ideas in “Othello” is loyalty and betrayal. The play “Othello” reveals that one’s loyalty could cause one’s betrayal. This is why I agree that Shakespeare’s plays are mainly concerned with the idea of loyalty. Characters that show this are Iago, Othello, Desdemona and Emilia. Iago is a cunning man; he uses his supposed loyalty to Othello to betray him and help Othello’s downfall. Desdemona is a very loyal wife, but Othello does not see this; because of Iago’s manipulation, Othello suspects that Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio, which makes him senseless and causes him to betray Desdemona by murdering her.

Emilia shows great loyalty to Iago, even though he shows none to her. In the end, Emilia’s loyalty shifts from her husband Iago to her mistress Desdemona. Throughout the entire play, Iago is Othello’s enemy, but also, at the same time, he is the one person Othello trusts. Othello thinks of Iago as “Honest Iago” and says, “A man he is of honesty and trust.” Whereas Iago uses Othello for his own benefit, “In following him I follow but myself.” Iago is a manipulative and cunning man. He uses his supposed loyalty to betray Othello and to exact his revenge. Othello trusts Iago with everything because, in the army, your fellow soldiers are the ones you trust with your life, just like how Othello trusted Iago. Iago’s success in manipulating Othello is due to Othello trusting Iago and believing what he had to say about Desdemona was true. Iago spins a web of lies and deceit to convince Othello that Desdemona is unfaithful.

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Despite Desdemona’s protests that she is faithful, Othello believes the word of his loyal ancient, Iago. If Othello did not believe Iago was a loyal friend, Iago would not have succeeded in his master plan. Desdemona is a loyal wife to Othello. Although she is constantly accused of being unchaste and cuckolding Othello, Desdemona’s loyalty and purity are the two things that remain constant throughout the whole play. When Othello accuses her of infidelity and asks her who she really is, she replies, “Your wife, my lord. Your true and loyal wife.” Although she sometimes seems like she gives in to what others have to say to her, it is only because of her loyalty to Othello. She desperately wants her husband back and tries to convince him that she is loyal, but Othello ignores her pleas.

Othello is loyal to Desdemona, and he expects Desdemona to do the same for him; when he thinks that Desdemona is cuckolding him, this makes him mad and eventually causes him to lose his sense and murder Desdemona. Another character that shows this idea is Emilia, Iago’s wife. Although Emilia was a trusted friend to Desdemona, Emilia shows loyalty to her husband throughout most of the play. She even goes to the extent of giving Desdemona’s handkerchief to Iago instead of giving it back to Desdemona. Emilia is just as loyal to Iago as Desdemona is to Othello; she wants to do whatever she can to please Iago, so she steals the handkerchief, “My wayward husband hath a hundred times / Wooed me to steal it….I nothing but to please his fantasy.” Unfortunately, Iago does not feel the same way about Emilia and uses her just as he uses everyone else.

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At the end of the play, when Emilia realizes that Iago was the one who was behind all the manipulation going on, she redeems herself by switching all loyalty from her husband to her mistress Desdemona. She confesses to Othello that Iago asked her to steal Desdemona’s handkerchief, and when she found it, she gave it to Iago. Emilia was prepared to die for her mistress, and at that time, did not care what happened to her. Due to the loyalty she showed for Desdemona and the disloyalty she showed to her husband, Iago murdered her. In the play “Othello,” written by William Shakespeare, the idea of loyalty is one that Shakespeare mainly uses in this play. This is shown through the characters Iago, Othello, Desdemona and Emilia and how they portrayed their loyalty.

Sometimes one’s loyalty caused one’s betrayal. For example, Iago used his supposed loyalty and trust that Othello had in him to betray Othello and exact his revenge on him for not making him lieutenant. Although Desdemona showed great loyalty to her husband Othello, he overlooked that and thought only of the words Iago was putting his mouth. He ended up betraying his beloved Desdemona and murdered her. Emilia showed great loyalty to her husband throughout the play, but she switched loyalty from Iago to Desdemona when she found out about her husband’s actions.

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Loyalty in Othello. (2021, Sep 05). Retrieved May 27, 2022, from