William Shakespeare focuses a lot of his play, Othello, on the theme of appearance versus reality. Othello, along with other characters in the play, depend on only their eyes and with that they jump to major conclusions. There are many instances in the book where there is hidden confusion, meaning the character believes on only what his or her eyes tell him, hence, Looks can be very deceiving.
One of the first instances where the theme appearance versus reality appears, is when Othello sees Cassio walking away very quickly after conversing with Desdemona, Othello’s wife. The basis around which he is suspicious comes from Iago, a very jealous man. Iago has presented to Othello, in a sneaky way, that Desdemona and Cassio are having an affair. Iago whispers to Othello, “…I cannot think it, that he would steal away so guilty like.” (lll,iii,42) Othello then replies, “…I do believe ‘twas he.” (lll,iii,44) But, when in reality, Cassio and Desdemona are talking about how to get Cassio’s job back. Desdemona says to Cassio,
I know’t. I thank you. You do love my lord;
You have known him long; and be you well assured
Othello and Desdemona vs. Romeo and Juliet Othello and Desdemona are similar and different from Romeo and Juliet in several ways, both as couples, and as individuals. The circumstances they face and the nature of their characters share similarities, and so do the choices they make, but the other characters in the respective plays, and the key differences in Othello and Romeo's dispositions cause ...
He shall in strangeness stand no farther off
Than in politic distance. (lll,iii,11)
Othello believes only what his eyes tell him. Now, Othello questions how Cassio and Desdemona are talking, but does not have a good enough motive to get angry at Desdemona nor does he ask her about Cassio. But, this instance is only the beginning of the lies that he sees from afar.
A second instance in the book where appearance versus reality presents itself is when Iago places Othello where he can see but cannot hear. Iago then starts a conversation with Cassio about Bianca. Since this is later in the book, Iago has been able to give Othello a purpose for being mad at Desdemona. From afar, it looks like Cassio is talking in a sexual way about Desdemona.
She was here even now. She haunts me in
Every place. I was the other day talking on the
Sea-bank with certain Venetians, and thither comes,
The bauble. (By this hand, she falls) thus about my
In reality, Iago places Cassio in a position to talk about how great Bianca is so great. Othello sees this from afar and says in shock, “Crying, ‘O dear Cassio,’ as it were, his gesture imports it.” (lll,i,155) Othello now believes everything and has evidence of his eyes, which for him is all the evidence he needs. Now, since Othello trusts Iago, he believes everything Iago says to him and trusts his opinions, even though they are in reality, lies. Iago supports everything Othello has been lead to believe. This marks the begging of the period of Othello’s craziness.
One of the last instances where the theme appearance versus reality appears is when Lodovico, the Duke’s messenger, comes into the book. Lodovico comes to deliver a message for Othello to return to Venice for Othello has done this job of defeating the Turks. Othello reads, “ ‘This fail you not to do, as you will.’” (llll,i,250) As Othello is reading the letter, Desdemona tells Lodovico about what has been going on since they reached Cyprus. Desdemona say, “Cousin, there’s fall’n between him and my lord. An unkind breach, but you shall make all well.” (llll,i,255) Othello hears what she is saying because he is standing right there. So, obviously Desdemona did not intend for this to be a secret. He the threatens Desdemona by asking, “Are you wise?” (lll,i,257) He does not approve of Desdemona telling Lodovico these thing. Othello, now in a huge outrage, slaps Desdemona and storms out. Lodovico witnesses the entire episode. He is very surprised that an honest, strong hearted man, who had so much passion for Desdemona could do such a thing. He says to Iago,
The four main characters in the play Othello represent four different character traits of manhood: Roderigo, the failure; Othello, the hero, yet the insane lover; Cassio, the noblemen; and Iago, the villain, yet the strongest character of the play. Of these four characters Roderigo reveals the weakest character traits. Iago effortlessly profits from Roderigo deficiency in a intelligence, in fact ...
Is this the noble Moor, whom our fill senate
Call all in all sufficient? Is this the nature
Whom passion could not shake, whose solid virtue
The shot of accident nor dart of chance
Could neither graze nor pierce? (llll,i,297)
Iago then states, behind Othello’s back, how much Othello has changed. He does because he is so carried away with his plan to destroy Cassio, he starts blaming Othello. It seems to Lodovico, that Othello has changed a lot since coming to Cyprus because hitting your wife is an imaginable crime. But what Lodovico doesn’t know is Othello thinks, because of what Iago has brainwashed into his head. Lodovico is one character who relies on only his eyes, and seeing this once incident rules out to be that Othello is a danger to the people around him. This event marks the last appearance versus reality situation. After this, the truth starts to come out.
Appearance versus reality is a major theme in this book. Not only are looks deceiving, but looks alone, only cause trouble, trouble that is sometimes unfixable. People today, just like those in the Shakespearean period, jump to conclusions just by seeing. It is important to get all the facts before something tragic happens just like in Othello. Seeing isn’t always believing.