One of the peculiarities of William Shakespeare’s plays is the indirect focus on the significant role of minor characters who can have the great impact on the major characters. In his play Othello, William Shakespeare also accentuates the meaning of minor characters and their actions for the development of the tragedy in Othello’s life.
Certain minor details, the characters’ actions, and the peculiar features of their behaviors are combined together in a complex web which forms the plot of the tragedy and leads Othello to his demise.
To analyze the role of the minor characters in Othello’s life, it is necessary to concentrate on such characters as Iago, Michael Cassio, and Emilia. Iago is depicted in the play as the enemy of Othello who tried to conceal his crucial intentions. Feelings of jealousy, revenge, and odium live in his heart. When he fails to be promoted as Othello’s lieutenant he creates a malicious plan for the revenge.
He tries to control and manipulate every movement of his life and Othello’s one and every action of those people who are around him. Thus, Iago’s ambitions and unfair intentions break the peace in Othello’s world and lead to the tragedy because Othello believes in “honest Iago”, and he trusts any “pestilence” that Iago presents. In spite of Othello’s power and will Iago achieves the goal and reveals the hidden side of Othello’s nature.
Michael Cassio also becomes the object of Iago’s manipulations and that is why causes Othello’s fall. Cassio is just a stringed-doll in Iago’s hands. He is devoted to Othello, but his sympathy and good relations with Desdemona result in the development of the tragedy which is greatly controlled by Iago. Othello becomes blinded with jealousy and hatred, he loses the abilities to interpret the situation correctly and make mistakes which cost a person’s life.
Emilia’s character is one of the most influential minor characters in the play. Shakespeare uses her character in order to develop the tragedy and to lead it to the end.
Thus, Emilia’s obedience greatly contributes to the tragic end of the play. Nevertheless, she represents an immense courage and gives Othello the right vision of the situation which changes the whole situation once more. Thus, Emilia’s actions have the great impact on Othello’s destiny.
On the one hand, she is obedient and eager to please her husband. She agrees to give Iago Desdemona’s handkerchief. Despite her husband’s attitude to her, it seems that she tries to win her husband’s heart. This action leads to the series of ill-fated events and eventually causes irrationalized and confused Othello to smother his innocent wife Desdemona.
One the other hand, when Emilia learns about the tragedy and realizes what she has done, she demonstrates Othello the truth and accuses Iago because of his sins. As a result, Iago should pay for his malicious actions. And Othello, with the pain of murdering his innocent wife, does not see the sense in his living.
Othello by William Shakespeare illustrates those important roles which each minor character can play for determining the fate of the main tragic hero. The crucial actions and behaviors of Iago, Michael Cassio, and Emilia are presented as minor details and secondary facts. However, they influence the life of the main characters and contribute to the development of the tragedy.