Comparison of the Mastermind Manipulators Jack from William Golding’s Novel Lord of the Flies and Iago from William Shakespeare’s Play Othello

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In William Shakespeare’s play Othello and William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies, Jack and Iago are consumed by evil and envy, manipulating others by using their emotions to gain power and corrupt their innocence. However, as one uses fear and intimidation and the other uses personal doubts and insecurities, their techniques differ in manipulation.

Firstly, Jack uses the horror of the ‘beast’ to insist on focusing more on hunting rather than the fire. As Jack has planned, he sparks fear in the little boys and Ralph loses control of the tribe. For example, when Jack is giving out orders about hunting, he warns and says, ‘’I expect the beast disguised himself. Perhaps […]. We’d better keep on the right side of him, anyhow.

You can’t tell what he might do.’ The tribe considered this; and then were shaken, as if by a flow of wind. The chief saw the effect of his words and stood abruptly” (Golding, 178). This clearly demonstrates that fear is a powerful tool for manipulation and for Jack to gain domination over the boys, he quickly understands that the manipulation of fear of the beast can be used to his advantage. This will maintain control over his hunters, so that they they will think he can prevent them from death.

Furthermore, Jack uses intimidation as a tool to manipulate the boys to maintain his authoritative position by using Samneric’s fear of Jack’s tribe, giving Jack an opportunity to manipulate the twins to join him. To prove, after Samneric warn Ralph that Jack wants to kill him, Ralph says, “Won’t you come with me? Three of us- we’d stand a chance” ( Golding 210) in which the boys reply with, “You don’t know Roger. He’s a terror, and the Chief-they’re both-terrors” ( Golding 210).

Evidently, Jack does not need Samneric for any strategic or survival ability, but to mainly use them to send a message to Ralph. This message is to inform Ralph that no one is on his side anymore. Jack refuses to let Ralph reclaim his status as chief. Ultimately, Jack’s objective from Samneric joining the tribe is showcasing power play by Jack. It is a strategy to ruin Ralph and secure his position as leader of the boys. In addition, Jack senses fear in Samneric and uses that emotion to manipulate the other boys to join his tribe so that he feels more powerful and stronger.

In contrary to Jack from the Lord of the Flies who heavily relies on fear as his emotion to manipulate other characters in the novel, Iago from the play Othello violates people’s emotion of personal doubt and insecurities to manipulate. To begin with, Iago manipulates Othello by planting a seed of doubt in him that his wife Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio. When Cassio and Desdemona are merely talking, Iago leads Othello to their area. As Othello views the scene Iago says,

What dost thou say?

Nothing, my lord; or if—I know not what.

Was not that Cassio parted from my wife?

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Cassio, my lord! No, sure, I cannot think it

That he would steal away so guilty like,

Seeing you coming.

I do believe ’twas he. (Shakespeare, 119)

As proven, Iago is very subtle with his accusation and plants a seed of doubt and jealousy in Othello. He hesitates as he speaks, which causes Othello to question what Iago means. After watching Desdemona and Cassio talk together, Iago indicates that something unusual is going on between Cassio and Othello’s wife. This doubt that Othello has will make him weak and easy for Iago to carry out his plan of manipulation throughout the rest of the play. So, Iago fools Othello by aiming his manipulation at a weak spot, which is Desdemona and trying to create trust issues with his own wife.

However, Jack manipulates his boys into fearing a nonexistent beast so they could follow his orders and he could be leader. Iago manipulates Othello by creating personal doubts and Jack manipulates by creating fear within the boys. They both similarly manipulate by playing with others’ emotions. Thus, both Iago and Jack want to gain control, Iago wanting Cassio’s position as lieutenant and Jack wanting to become the chief of the tribe. Lastly, Iago manipulates Othello by aiming at his insecurities to make him believe that Desdemona is unfaithful to him. For instance, after Iago tells him about Desdemona cheating on him with Cassio, Othello responds with,

“Haply, for I am black and have not those soft parts of conversation that chamberers have, or for I am declined into the vale of years-yet that’s not much-She’s gone, I am abused, and my relief must be to loathe her. O curse of marriage” (Shakespeare,135) Then he follows later on by saying, “Her name, that was as fresh as Dian’s s visage, is now begrimed and black as mine own face” (Shakespeare, 145). Clearly, Othello is not secure about being a black man. He even uses a simile by saying “…is no as grimy and black as my own face” to imply that he is insecure about being black. Evidently, Othello is easily deceived. Also, it is very apparent that Othello has self-esteem issues. His own insecurities that Iago uses to his advantage causes Othello to easily believe that Desdemona is unfaithful.

To compare, Iago uses Othello’s insecurities to manipulate him into thinking his wife cheated on him because she is not interested in the way he looks. In contrast, Jack shows Samneric his evil side and instills fear in them so that he can manipulate them to join his tribe. Both Iago and Jack use techniques of manipulation to convince the others to gain trust in them and take their side. Similarly, both do this to get revenge, become powerful and make the others do and think evil things.

Specifically, Jack intimidates the boys to get revenge on Ralph and to lower Ralph’s position as chief, while Iago convinces Othello of Desdemona’s unfaithfulness to get revenge on Othello and to make him vulnerable. In conclusion, both Iago from the play Othello and Jack from the Lord of the Flies use manipulation to reach their goal, however, Iago’s method of manipulation is by playing with a person’s insecurities and doubts whereas Jack’s is feeding on fear and intimidation to gain power.

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Comparison of the Mastermind Manipulators Jack from William Golding’s Novel Lord of the Flies and Iago from William Shakespeare’s Play Othello. (2021, February 22). WritingBros. Retrieved August 15, 2022, from
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