Itcan be argued that Othello is accessible to us today because of theissue of betrayal. Betrayal is one of the major themes thatare blatantly evident in Othello. This theme has been achievedthroughout the play through the various actions and relativelyirrational behaviors of most of the characters in the play. Inaccordance with Ardolino & Frank (52) betrayal is beingunfaithful to someone in any way and more so if they trust you it canalso be defined as going contrary to a common believe or anagreement. In Othello, betrayal starts to play out at the beginningof the play. Desdemona marries Othello without her father’sconsent. Othello was not a native he was a moor from North Africawhile Desmodania was an Italian. Considering the setting of the playwas in the 1600, racism was very rampant and interracial marriageswere unheard of and were even considered taboo. Nonetheless, she wentahead to marry Othello knowing very well that her father would neverconsent to their marriage. As Huebert & David (45) posit shebetrays the wishes of her father at some point in the play Brabantioeven purports that her daughter had been bewitched by Othello thatshe could not marry Othello with her right senses of mind.
Desdemona’sfather goes ahead to report the matter to the Duke and Othelloconfesses everything they had fallen in love with each other thus gotmarried. Desdemona is called with his father expecting her to refutewhat Othello had said she on the other hand concurs. Later onBrabantio refused to accept Othello’s marriage to his daughter hewent ahead to poison Othello against his wife by casting doubts inhis mind. He explains to Othello that if she betrayed her own fatherthen she could also betray him. That could be viewed as a fatherbetraying his own daughter. In that Brabantio knew very well that hisdaughter loved Othello and could not leave him for anything yet wentahead to cast doubts to the same man hoping that he would leave her.This are real life situations that are present in the in thecontemporary world. A girl making a choice to marry maybe a man whois of a different, race, tribe or even social class maybe deemed asbetray on the side of the family (Lord, 12).
Iagois also another character that is used to bring out the theme ofbetrayal in the play. Iago who purports to be Othello’s friend issame person who informs Brabantio of the marriage between hisdaughter and Othello. He knew so well that Brabantio would notconsent to that marriage. In this instance he betrays both Othelloand his wife. He obviously does that to cause problems in the houseof Othello not even considering how much Othello had trusted him. Headmits that he only shows solidarity with Othello for his ownbenefit. This also presents a real life situation of friends that onemay consider to be close people not knowing that they are craftingyour downfall for their own gains. In other words they associate withyou not because they like you but because of they can gain from you.Iago is one of the most trusted people inner circles of Othello to apoint that Othello leaves his wife under his watch. Nonetheless,Othello still does not appoint him as the lieutenant he instead goesfor Michael Cassio a decision that does not go down well with Cassio(Phillips & Adam, 62). Since according to him, he was morequalified and more deserving than Cassio. In essence Cassio had donenothing wrong to Iago he nonetheless chose to betray him.
Hetook advantage of him by encouraging to drink a lot of alcoholknowing so well that Cassio liked drinking that was after Othello wasback from conquering Turkey during the party he made Cassio drink alot of alcohol then sent Roderigo to go provoke Cassio who in turnretaliated and wounded both Roderigo and Montano who was trying tostop the fight. Othello then woke up and had no choice but to demotehis beloved soldier due to his misconduct without prior knowledgethat it was crafted by Iago. Iago thereby succeeds in betrayingCassio and plotting his down fall. Firstly, by soiling his reputationand secondly by crafting his demotion. To Cassio Iago might have beenjust a friend. Unknown to him was Iago was a betrayer who would behappy with his down fall. That is another scenario of betray at afriend to friend or even colleague level. In real life careerassassinations are very rampant. Fellow employees could capitalize onones mistake to ensure that they get that person’s position.
Roderigoa wealthy man who really likes Othello’s wife confides in Iago. Heeven gives expensive jewelry to Iago to take to Desdemona. However,Iago on the other hand betrays the trust and pockets all the giftsthat he was given to take to Desdemona. Here by betraying his friendwho confided in him only giving false hopes to Roderigo. He againuses treachery to make Roderigo believe that Desdemona liked Cassioand therefore the only of getting her would be through killingCassio. In real sense all wanted was to kill Cassio and get the seatof the Lieutenant. He betrayed Roderigo by taking his gifts and notdelivering. He then proceeds to betray his own wife, Desdemona andCassio. Iago convinces his wife to ensure that Desdemona talks toCassio pretending that he was Cassio get his job back. While thetruth he was using his tricks to ensure that his plans go as planned.He does not tell his wife the real reason he wanted Desdemona to talkto Cassio, thereby betraying the trust that Emilia hadfor him as a husband. Iago then ensures that Othello sees themtalking and makes allegations that Desdemona was unfaithful tohis husband. He then proceeds with his craft of betrayal by takingthe handkerchief given to him by his wife to give to Othello andensuring it gets Cassio. Then proceeded to tell Othello that he hadseen the strawberry handkerchief with Cassio and he was possiblygiven by Desdemona.
Iagoproceeds with bringing out the theme of betrayal by telling Othellothat Cassio would blab about how he was sleeping with Desdemona. Hegets Othello to hide then cunningly talks to Cassio about Bianca hismistress. Cassio smiles and gestures and Othello in his hiding placethinks that they are talking about how Cassio was sleeping withDesdemona which is what he was made to believe by Iago. Later Iagoand Roderigo planned to kill Cassio who was now to become thegovernor. Roderigo attacked but Cassio hurt him instead Iago comesfrom behind and stabs Cassio on the leg. This betrayal was not onlyto his friend but to his life too. He later grabbed and stabbedRoderigo when Lodovico and Gratianoappeared claiming that he was revenging for his friend. He laterkilled Roderigo and stabbed his own wife betraying her because hebelieved she was sleeping with Othello. Othello on the other handbetrays his wife by strangling her to death because Iago had poisonedhim with the thought that she was unfaithful to him. He was too blindto even see that Desdemona even sacrificed his father’s loveto be with him. All along Iago had betrayed Othello by misleading himand giving him all the wrong indicators until he killed his own wifeand later took his own life.
Asearlier discussed It can be arguedthat Othello is accessible to us today because of the issue ofbetrayal is one of the major themes that are evident inOthello. This theme has been achieved throughout the play through thevarious actions and rather irrational behaviors of most of thecharacters in the play. This is an issue that we can relate to invarious levels as seen the play. There was betrayal in the familylevel, Iago severally betrayed his wife and ended up killing him.There is betrayal at work Iago got Cassio drunk just to ensure hewould get demoted and even betrayal by friends as seen when Iagobetrayed Roderigo by taking his gifts and later stabbing and killinghim.
Ardolino,Frank. "Pinter`s BETRAYAL And Shakespeare`s OTHELLO."Explicator 65.1 (2006): 50-53. Academic Search Premier.Web. 27 July 2016.
Huebert,David. "Othello`s Testicles, Sybil`s Womb: The Interracial ChildIn Harlem Duet And Its Progenitor." English Studies In Canada41.4 (2015): 23-50. Academic Search Premier. Web. 27 July2016.
Lord,Douglas C. "The Othello Response: Conquering Jealousy, BetrayalAnd Rage In Your Relationship (Book)." Library Journal128.19 (2003): 86. Academic Search Premier. Web. 27 July 2016.
Phillips,Adam. "Othello On Satisfaction." Raritan 31.1(2011): 50-69. Academic Search Premier. Web. 27 July 2016.