Comparing Othello And Canterbury Tales

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Comparing Othello And Canterbury Tales

A Case Study In Human Nature
The use of manipulation and misleading for personal gain has
proved to be successful for many people throughout history.
Famous poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, and famous play writer, William
Shakespeare, illustrate characters who possess these manipulating
qualities in their personalities. Geoffrey Chaucer’s Pardoner,
from The Canterbury Tales, and William Shakespeare’s Iago, from
Othello, are good examples deceiving characters. These literary
figures manipulating techniques are very effective on the other
characters in Chaucer’s and Shakespeare’s works.
Iago’s main motivation for his manipulation is his hatred of
the main character, Othello. Iago's reasons for his hatred of
Othello begin with the fact that in choosing a lieutenant,
Othello passed over Iago in favor of Cassio, but Iago may have
hated Othello even before that. Roderigo opens the play by
exclaiming to Iago, “Tush! never tell me? I take it much unkindly
that thou, Iago, who hast had my purse as if the strings were
thine, shouldst know of this” (1.1.1-3). The this is the
elopement of Othello and Desdemona. Roderigo has been giving Iago
money to help him into Desdemona's favor, and he assumes that
Iago knew about the elopement. Iago didn't know, which must have
been embarrassing. He says about Desdemona, “Now I do love her
too; Not out of absolute lust, though peradventure I stand
accountant for as great a sin, but partly led to diet my revenge”
(2.1.291-294). He wants revenge for his own suspicion that
Othello has gone to bed with Emilia. It's eating at him and he
won't be satisfied “Till I am evened with him, wife for wife. Or
failing so, yet that I put the Moor At least into a jealousy so
strong that judgment cannot cure” (2.1.299-302). The phrase
evened with him, wife for wife, seems to mean that he has some
notion that he might have sex with Desdemona, but it's not the
sex that's important. Othello must feel that same horrible
jealousy that Iago feels.
Iago has a very effective way with words. When Desdemona,
Iago, and Iago's wife, Emilia, arrive in Cyprus, Cassio welcomes
Emilia with a kiss, then says to Iago, “Let it not gall your
patience, good Iago, That I extend my manners. ‘Tis my breeding
That gives me this bold show of courtesy” (2.1.97-99). Cassio is
making a big point of what a charmer he is, but Iago shoots him
down by saying, “Sir, would she give you so much of her lips as
of her tongue she oft bestows on me, you would have enough”
(2.1.100-102). He's saying that if Emilia kissed Cassio as much
as she nags Iago, Cassio would have more than enough kissing.
This apparently casual devaluation of Emilia and her kisses is a
deception; a little later we learn that Iago is intensely jealous
and suspects Cassio of having an affair with Emilia. Also, Iago
convinces Cassio that the best way to get his job back is to
appeal to Desdemona, then sends him off. Alone on stage, Iago
asks us why we think he's a villain, since his advice to Cassio
is free and honest, and after all he is called “honest Iago.”
Answering his own question, he comments, “When devils will the
blackest sins put on, They do suggest at first with heavenly
shows, as I do now.” (2.3.351-353). Iago knows that he is a
devilish hypocrite, but he seems to be getting a kick out of it.
Much like Shakespeare’s, Iago, Geoffrey Chaucer created a
devious and deceptive character by the name of the Pardoner. The
Pardoner is strictly “In it for the money.” He sells phony relics
to gullible villagers. He convinces these people that these
“relics” are of important religious value. Like he says, “Then I
bring out my long glass jars, crammed full of rags and bones;
these are relics--as they all suppose.” (p.339-341, lines 20-21).
He tells his stories of how he has deceived people into buying
his relics. He tells the story of a metal shoulder bone from a
holy Jew’s sheep and how if it is washed in any well, the
livestock would be cured from eating a worm or getting stung by
one if it drank from the well. The Pardoner is not at all ashamed
of what he does to innocent people. He says, “I don’t want to
imitate any of the apostles; I want to have money, wool, cheese,
and wheat, even if it is given by the poorest page, or the
poorest widow in a village, although her children die of
starvation. No! I will drink liquor of the

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