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Manipulation in Othello:

The Hunt for Power Through


Language
Argument
Those searching for

power choose to
advance their way up
the ladder of society
with manipulation
through discourse.
A Venomous Cycle
The Vampire Within:
Sucking the Lives out of One’s
Peers
 P: People use Ethos, a form of manipulation, to build up the
sense of loyalty that their peers witness in them.

 E: “Well my good lord, I’ll do’t”(III.ii.117)


-Iago is willing to do things for Othello all the time and defines

himself as his ‘right-hand man’ for whatever he needs


 “Good my lord, pardon me…”(III.iii.133)
 P: “Studying speech acts such as complimenting allows discourse analysts to
ask what counts as a compliment, who gives compliments to whom, and what other
function they can serve.. complimenting can be a way of asking for
things”(Tannen1).
 “Iago cannot start to corrupt Othello's mind until he has got his attention and,
at this moment, Othello is distracted by Desdemona's departure. The initiator Iago
uses here is formally deferential to Othello's position, whereas Othello refers to Iago
as 'thou' and uses his first name” (Frost1).

 I: Iago acts as a loyal friend and builds the trust that Othello has in him with
the rhetoric device of Ethos. The phrase “keep your friends close, but keep your
enemies closer” conveys a sense of manipulation. People tend to use their words
wisely to get their peers to believe that they are good friends and those who they
All the Right Friends In all
the Right Places
P : Pe o p le u se Lo g o s, a n o th e r fo rm o f m a n ip u la tio n , to
a p p e a lto th e re a so n in g o f th o se th e y co n ve rse w ith .

E: “Cassio my lord? No sure, I cannot think it that he would


steal away so guilty-like seeing you coming” (III.iii.37-39)
“She did deceive her father, marrying you; And when she
seemed to shake and fear your looks, she loved them
most”(III.iii.206-208)

P: “But Iago, that malcontent manque , enacts also the second stage of this
dialectic: he is a de-centered self re-inscribed into a logic of reified
rationality--a replacement for the old centered traditions, but one that
proves even more destructive than the repressive systems it has usurped”
(Grady1 )

I: Using Logos, the person often times attempts to be in


their peer’s mind, holding on to each point of reasoning that they
have and soliciting their opinions. In Othello, Iago chooses to
simply reiterate what was already going on in Othello’s mind. The
person is always aware of what they are doing.
Emotion in the Eyes of the
Audience
P: People use Pathos, another form of manipulation, to appeal to the emotion

of the audience.

E:
 “Ha! I like not that”(III.iii.34)
 “Pricked to’t by foolish honesty and love, I will go on”(III.iii.409-410)
P: “All rhetorically oriented discourse is composed in light of those who
will hear or read that discourse. Or, in other words, rhetorical analysis
always takes into account how an audience shapes the composition of a
text or responds to it” (Burton 1)
 “ To in su re th a t d iso rd e r a n d u n ce rta in ty co m e to O th e llo , Ia g o tre a ts
h im like a co n fu se d a n d d iso rd e re d ch ild , te llin g th e M o o r n o d ire ct lie s b u t
in fe rrin g th e w o rst th ro u g h ste a lth a n d in n u e n d o ” ( N a re y 1 ).
I: Using Pathos, individuals develop relationships with those around them and

really appeal to the emotions of onlookers. This sense of connection is seen


in the play of Othello when Iago plays upon the sentiment of the audience
to get them to make him the one they love to hate.


Synthesis
All discourse is persuasive. Whether it be

through rhetorical devices, body language,


or simple tones, individuals are lured into
different ways of thinking just by
communication. Iago uses words to his
advantage knowingly in order to seal his
place in society.

Bibliography
Burton, Gideon O. "Audience." Silva Rhetoricae: The Forest of Rhetoric. Web. 08 Dec. 2009.
<http://rhetoric.byu.edu/Encompassing%20Terms/audience.htm>.
Frost, Robert. "Talk, small talk and silence in Othello: Robert Frost applies techniques adopted from
discourse analysis to the way characters speak in Othello." The English Review Sept. 2003: 28+. General
OneFile. Web. 7 Dec. 2009. <http://find.galegroup.com.ezproxy.bpl.org/gtx/start.do?
prodId=ITOF&userGroupName=mlin_b_bpublic>.
Grady, Hugh. "Iago and the dialectic of enlightenment: reason, will and desire in 'Othello.'." Criticism 37.4
(1995): 537+. General Reference Center Gold. Web. 7 Dec. 2009.
<http://find.galegroup.com.ezproxy.bpl.org/gtx/start.do?prodId=GRGM&userGroupName=mlin_b_bpublic>.
Narey, Wayne. "An Essay on Othello." The Center for Learning Technologies at Arkansas State University.
Web. 08 Dec. 2009. <http://www.clt.astate.edu/wnarey/Shakespeare%20files/an_essay_on_othello.htm>.
Tannen, Deborah. "LSA: About Linguistics." LSA: Welcome. Web. 07 Dec. 2009.
<http://www.lsadc.org/info/ling-fields-discourse.cfm>.