Othello's Main Message Is ‘Don't Trust Outward Appearances’. Discuss

Othello’s main message is ‘Don’t trust outward appearances’. Discuss

In Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello, one of the most fundamental themes explored is appearance and reality. Throughout the play Shakespeare investigates the deceptive nature of outward appearances and their power to impede perception of the truth. In the play, outward appearances have the ability to mask the true nature of both evil and innocent characters as explored through the cunning and manipulative Iago who is able mask his intense hatred and jealousy for Othello and Cassio behind a loyal façade. Conversely, Othello’s ability to see the honest and adoring nature of Desdemona is impaired by the outward appearance that Iago constructs for her. It is through these themes of appearance and reality that Shakespeare expresses his message of the necessity to not trust outward appearances.  
In Othello the misanthropist Iago epitomises the play’s central theme of the necessity to not trust outward appearances. From the beginning of the play Iago presents a “most honest” and loyal façade to Othello, but in reality conspires against him in order to make him “egregiously an ass”. Whilst Iago expresses his intense malignity for Othello to Roderigo, proclaiming that he “hates him as I do hell pains”, to the general he portrays the image of a noble servant intent on serving the Moor. Through his honourable and loyal outward appearance, which is “indeed but a sign”, Iago is able to develop a false sense of trust with the general, which he manipulates and exploits in order to “serve [his] turn upon him”. Through his outward appearance, Iago is not only able to hide the intense malignity and jealousy that he has for both Othello and Cassio, but is also able to convince both the eponymous character and his lieutenant of his loyalty and honesty. Through this trust that Iago is able to falsely instil in both Othello and Cassio, he is able to convince Othello of his wife’s infidelity and frame Cassio as her...