The Manipulation of Delusion

Delusion is a defense mechanism used by humanity to escape from the sting of reality. People delude themselves by distorting the real world and retreating into an imaginary universe of their own. However, as their delusions entangle them with their surroundings, lies which are meant as self-comforts cause people to be subjects of manipulation. This delusion ultimately implodes from the weight of the ever-growing number of lies required to sustain the falsehood. Characters in William Shakespeare’s “Othello” use delusion as an internal coping mechanism to preserve their sanity but ironically ensnare themselves into a web of lies that eventually lead to their unforeseen demise.

The tragedy of “Othello” unfolds itself as the jealous and enraged Iago bluntly declares his hatred toward Cassio, who has just been promoted to lieutenant and is now ranked as his superior. Iago describes Cassio as “a great arithmetician... that never set a squadron in the field” (I, i, 16-19) and laments how his seniority does not earn him a deserved position. This feeling of injustice subsequently becomes Iago’s motive to belittle his superiors through a series of depreciating, cunning lies.

Iago, desperate to avoid insanity and downfall, initiates delusions that serve to ease the pain of jealousy. Iago traps Cassio in a lustful relationship with Desdemona in the hope that a misunderstanding between Cassio and Othello would elevate his own position in life. To increase his prominence and distinction among fellow Venetians, Iago deludes himself into justifying his misdeeds against Cassio. Throughout the play, Iago attacks others time and again with his fabricated lies without a hint of remorse. This demonstrates the extent to which Iago is blinded by his own deluded belief that his actions are valid. While trapped in a deluded state, Iago gleefully watches the death of his enemies. However, since delusion is not sustainable in the long run, Iago’s...

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