Roderigo, the fool

The rich young fool

Roderigo comes from a similar social background to Cassio and Desdemona, but is an example of wealth and privilege divorced from sense and honour. Rather than having a complex personality, he is a stock character, common to city comedies written by Shakespeare’s fellow playwrights: the rich young fool, ripe to be gulled.
Roderigo is completely duped by Iago at every one of his appearances in the play:
  • Iago has already got hold of much of Roderigo’s money before the action of the play opens, and by the end of the play has persuaded him to part with most of his fortune, all in the hope of seducing, (we might almost say bribing) Desdemona into becoming his mistress
  • Whenever he complains to Iago that he is no closer to winning Desdemona’s love, Iago twists and confuses his arguments so that he changes his mind again and agrees to follow Iago’s revised plan
  • He also follows Iago’s advice in picking a quarrel with Cassio in Act 2 Scene 1, and finally agrees to murder Cassio in Act 5, despite his misgivings (he lacks courage). 
Although tragic, Roderigo’s death seems almost farcical as he only realises when it is too late how much Iago has been lying and betraying him throughout.
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