Betrayal is a main theme in Othello and is revealed through the actions and often irrational behavior of the characters. First of all, there is the perceived betrayal of Desdemona when she marries Othello without her father's knowledge or consent. Ironically, Brabantio warns Othello, when he says, "She has deceiv'd her father, and may thee," (I.iii.293). He is suggesting that she has therefore shown a potential for disloyalty. Immediately after this warning, Othello significantly leaves...
Betrayal is a main theme in Othello and is revealed through the actions and often irrational behavior of the characters. First of all, there is the perceived betrayal of Desdemona when she marries Othello without her father's knowledge or consent. Ironically, Brabantio warns Othello, when he says, "She has deceiv'd her father, and may thee," (I.iii.293). He is suggesting that she has therefore shown a potential for disloyalty. Immediately after this warning, Othello significantly leaves Desdemona in the care of "Honest Iago," (294); the same Iago who alerted Desdemona's father to her marriage in the first place so that he could cause a disturbance and who even admits that he merely shows solidarity with Othello in order to "serve my turn upon him," (I.i.42); in other words, he acts for his own benefit.
Iago feels slighted, offended and even betrayed, by Othello's choice of Michael Cassio as his lieutenant, when he believes he is far more qualified and deserving and intends to make , not only Othello, pay for his own (Othello's) apparent, poor choices. Therefore, Iago ruins Cassio's reputation for his part in being chosen by Othello. Iago is also delusional believing that Othello has been unfaithful with Iago's wife and this is just another reason why Iago ensures everyone's downfall. He is determined to exact his revenge on anyone who has disappointed him or benefited when Iago feels he should have been the one to benefit. There is no foundation on which he bases his claim that Othello has been unfaithful with Iago's wife but this does not stop him making the claim.
From the perspective of destroying Othello, it will not be enough to cause Othello pain. He intends to incite Othello sufficiently until Othello does something so heinous and unforgivable which is what he means when he refers to, "a jealousy so strong That judgment cannot cure." (II.i.295-296). The judgment to which Iago refers is rational judgment and discernment.
It is Iago's intention to use whatever opportunity he can to make Othello doubt his friends and trust Iago without hesitation. This will enable him to completely discredit Othello. For example, even though Othello must know in his heart that Desdemona would not betray him, he is so affected by Iago's efforts and his ability to manipulate him, that all rational thought abandons Othello. At the end, even Othello can hardly believe what he has done because he thinks of himself as, "One not easily jealous, but, being wrought, perplexed in the extreme..." (V.ii.348-349) meaning that he has acted out of character and only in the interests of honor. Iago has successfully destroyed everyone, himself included.
At the beginning of the play, Iago talks to Roderigo that he hates Othello because of his promotion of Cassio to the post of lieutenant. In spite of “three great men in the city” recommending him that Iago is upon Cassio for the position, Othello still chooses to give the position to a man with no experience. He is angry and he says “there are others/ who putting on a good show of duty/ are really looking put for their own interest” (1,1 50-52). This quote demonstrates that Iago waits for an opportunity to give revenge; he only pretends to serve Othello. Furthermore, Iago lies to Othello that Cassio has told him he has lain with Desdemona in order to infuriate Othello. As he says, “my medicine, keep working! This is how gullible fools are caught/ and how many worthy and chaste women/ all guiltless, wind up accused” (4, 1 51-54). Obviously, he betrays Othello.
In Act 5, after Desdemona dies, Othello talks to Emilia saying that Iago has found Desdemona’s falsehood. Emilia is anguished and she says, “Oh, my lady, a villain has toyed with your love/ My husband said she was unfaithful” (5, 2 181-182). As we all know, Desdemona is loyal to Othello. She puts her marriage into high position of her life. However, Iago forges lies of Othello which caused Desdemona to be misunderstood by Othello who thinks that she is having an affair with Cassio. Thus, Iago betrays Desdemona.
Cassio is a young and inexperienced soldier, whose high position is much resented by Iago. Iago is smart and he is good at understanding and manipulating others. He knows Cassio’s weakness when he says “if I can get him to drink just one more cup/ on top of what he’s had to drink tonight already/ he’ll be as quarrelsome and disagreeable/ as my young lady’s dog” (2, 3 43-46). Iago leads Cassio into committing an action that will disgrace him. Consequently, Iago betrays Cassio.
Roderigo loves Desdemona, and he gives all of his money to Iago because Iago promises him he will help Roderigo win Desdemona’s heart. However, Iago uses all the money for himself; Roderigo is just a tool to help him accomplish his revenge. When Iago’s plan is nearly complete, he thinks about “ if Roderigo lives/ he’ll expect me to give back all the gold and jewels I swindled him out of/ as gifts to Desdemona/ That must not happen” (5, 1 14-17). This demonstrates that he is about to kill Roderigo. Afterward, he stabs Roderigo without hesitation, and he pushes all the charges on him. Hence Iago betrays Roderigo.
Emilia is Iago’s wife, but Iago doesn’t care about her. Emilia is just another tool. He asks Emilia to steal Desdemona’s handkerchief. At the end of the play, when Emilia accuses Iago of villainy, Iago no longer certain he can keep his trick hidden so he stabs Emilia in the commotion. Therefore, Iago betrays Emilia.