by Erin McGuinness (Circle 3)
In both Othello and The Tragedy of King Richard III, the audience is presented with very manipulative characters.Iago and Richard also differ in the way they go about manipulating people. Iago does it and feigns care and concern, hence he is referred to as “Honest Iago” by Othello for the better part of the play. He carefully tends to Othello to craft this identity that fools everyone. While Richard is a known deceiver, he does not spend a long time making himself out to be something that will work to his advantage. For example, Richard plays the part of the concerned dedicated brother when he is “informed” that his brother Clarence is going to be imprisoned in London Tower. Richard reacts by asking Clarence in I.i.49-51, /Belike his majesty hath some intent/ That you should be new-christened in the Tower./ But what’s the matter, Clarence? May I know?/ Here, Richard is feigning total concern for Clarence. To reassure his brother that he will be fine, he mentions that he is going to be “new-christened” in the Tower. Shakespeare utilizes a pun to have Richard’s final vow to Clarence. He states in I.i.115-116, /We;;, your imprisonment shall not be long. / I will deliver you or lie for you./ Richard puns off of the words deliver and lie here, as Clarence is probably thinking that Richard will “deliver” him from the Tower and “lie” his own life down to save his brother. In reality, Richard plans to “deliver” Clarence to the Tower with no chance of ever leaving, and “lie” to Clarence in order to get away with it.
Both Richard and Iago are so good at deceiving people because they know them so well. For example, Iago knows that Desdemona will not stop vouching for Cassio because it is in her caring and compassionate nature to do all that she can to help. Richard understands how Lady Anne works- how even in her rage and sadness over the loss of her husband, she could never kill another. This is why Richard offers her that option in I.ii.168-171, /Nay, do not pause, for I did kill King Henry;/ But ‘twas thy beauty that provoked me./Nay, now dispatch: ‘twas I that stabbed young Edward;/ But t’was thy heavenly face that set me on./ Not only does Richard admit guilt to murdering her husband but he then makes her believe that she is to blame. They end their exchange with Lady Anne recognizing how great it is to see Richard / become so penitent/ in I.ii.208. She completely plays into Richard’s plan and becomes just another pawn in his plot to get the crown.
Finally, the method of only keeping people around as long as they can help you before harming your purposes is one that Richard and Iago both observe. Roderigo spends his funds away by going to Cyprus to try and win over Desdemona, and in the end, Iago kills him for being a liability to revealing his scheme. Hastings is slated to be executed after Richard tests him to see where his loyalties are. I am looking forward to uncovering more similarities between Richard III and other plays we have already covered as we finish our reading.