DECEPTION IN OTHELLO


Word Count: 1627

Deception, which by its definition is a bad thing and has only one level or degree, is truly not this way at all. Deception appears many times in Othello, but in almost every incident the degree of deception is different. There are only a few characters that use deception, and those characters all use different degrees of deception to get what they want in the play. Deception is almost always used through verbal language or body language because it is the easiest way to deceive a person. The reasons, or intentions, a person has for deception determines the goodness (or badness) and (or) severity of the deception. If a person deceives others with good intentions, then, in a way, the deception is partially good. However, if a person has bad reasons or intentions in deceiving others, then the deception is bad. There is also, in contrast to the definition of deception, debate over what is deception because it is always different in the eyes of different people.
Although deception is always meant to deceive, the degree of deception varies upon the context of the situation. Desdemona gives one example of deception when she hides her relationship with Othello from her father. Brabantio says, “O, she deceives me Past thought!” (1.1.166) Desdemona had reasons for deceiving her father. Her reasons were very simple, because she loved her father she wanted to protect him. Desdemona knew that her father would eventually find out the truth, but she felt that by hiding her relationship with Othello she would be delaying the inevitable pain that her father was going to feel. Since Desdemona loved her father, she felt that by delaying his pain she would be doing him a service, and because Desdemona deceived her father out of love, this deception was not severe. It was however bad, because there was no way in which Desdemona could avoid hurting her father. This shows that even though Desdemona deceived her father and the outcome was bad, it was not severe because her intentions were good hearted. Another example of the degree of deception was when Iago said to Othello, “She did deceive her father, marrying you” (111.3.205). Iago’s deception, which in appearance looks similar to Desdemona’s deception, is in fact very different. When Iago says this to Othello, he is trying to anger Othello, and place doubt in Othello’s mind. Iago’s intentions are bad and hurtful, and that is why this incident is in fact much worse and much more severe than the previous one. The definition of deception in “THE OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY” is,
DECEPTION-
1. The action of deceiving or cheating
b. The fact or condition of being deceived
2. That which deceives; a piece of trickery; a cheat, sham
This definition states that deception is a trick, a cheat, or a sham, and this implies that all deception is of the same degree. However, it is clear from the previous two scenes that in different situations deception can have different degrees, and that one thing can be more deceitful than another.
Deception, which is described as trickery, a cheat, or a sham, is considered a very bad thing. However, it is possible for deception to have good intentions, and this would make deception partially good. There are many occasions where a person may deceive another and feel he or she has done a good deed. When Othello asks Desdemona for the handkerchief, because he has suspicions that she is cheating on him, Desdemona lies and says she has it.
Othello “Lend me your handkerchief.”
Desdemona “I have it not about me.”
Othello “Is’t lost? Is’t gone? Speak: is’t out o’th way?”
Desdemona “It is not lost” (111.4.52-83)

Desdemona lies to Othello, and tries to deceive him. This, according to the definition of deception is bad. However, it is not bad. Because Desdemona knew that if she told Othello the truth he would become very angry, she lied to him and said she had the handkerchief. Desdemona’s intentions for lying were good, because Desdemona loved Othello she decided to protect him from getting angry. Desdemona thought she had just misplaced the handkerchief, and that she would soon find it, but if she told Othello she had lost it he would become furious. Since Desdemona thought she would find the