Right from the beginning, Shakespeare has highlighted the things that are most important to know about Othello. He is courageous and loyal. He is black and a lover of Desdemona. Well, nothing may seem so special about these traits because in Shakespeare’s times most fictional characters were either knights or brave heroes or royalty. These traits may appear to be normal and no one can suspect that the downfall of such a strong character can be caused by a simple trick by Iago. Iago uses the simplest trick. Someone who cannot be brought down from the outside can be demolished from the inside. This is Shakespeare’s art. He cleverly injects elements into his drama that make his characters unique and the circumstances amazing.
One may ask what is amazing about Othello. It is just a tragic drama where all throughout tragic things keep happening. Well, not all is tragic about Othello. Both Othello and Iago are interesting characters. Othello is brave; Iago is clever. Othello is true, Iago full of lies and con. Othello loves, Iago cannot help hating. Iago is just like a prankster, but a deadly one. He kills with his pranks. Othello’s primary weakness is that he has all the strengths that make him a recipe for disaster. He is famous, controversial, and newly wed. Together these three things mean ‘Hellfire’. Iago has a keen eye that is fixed upon Othello’s back. Othello cannot see the disaster that looms large. It is because he is a general and less used to using his mind. He can see things, cannot see through them. So, till the end he does not know he has been targeted. Being called a cuckold for him is like burning in the “hellfire”.
Iago covers his eyes making him completely blind to the situation. At this point Othello may suck. His childish attitude comes to the fore when Iago proves that military men have trust issues. Iago can see where the thread between Othello and Desdemona is weak. He sharply cuts the thread without any of them knowing it. Iago has the edge that Othello does not have. He is skilled at using his mind to trap his targets. Othello walks in foolishly. He is used to registering wins on the warfield. A war fought on the battle field can be more straightforward compared to the one in personal life.
Iago has recognized this vulnerability and lays down the trap. He knows what a controversy can do. It can ignite the fire that Othello will burn his own house down. Iago guides Othello to the final disaster. Othello’s biggest vulnerability is his experience. He is used to battles, wins and accolades. So, when it comes to love, he is not as skilled. He is an experienced warrior, but a poor lover. Now, Iago exploits the weaknesses of the brave general to guide him like a guinea pig inside a maze. By the time Othello murders Desdemona, he is completely blinded by his fury. His fury has been fuelled by the vengeance in Iago’s heart. Iago keeps feeding his fury and jealousy till they have eaten his heart’s peace. So, by the time he can realize that someone has manipulated things, he has lost control and the game is over.