In the plays Othello, the Moor of Venice, written by William Shakespeare and A Doll's House, written by Henrik Ibsen; we are witness to two marriages that slowly collapse throughout the play with both ending tragically. Many believe that the characters of Iago and Krogstad played a major role and are mostly to blame for the disintegration of the marriages. I agree that it was a man in both cases that caused the relationships to crumble, but which man is really to blame? In Othello, Iago is a villainous person who is filled with hatred, jealousy and an undeniable lust for power.
He influences and manipulates everyone close to him for the sole purpose of destroying their lives. Motivated by hate and jealousy, Iago begins his manipulative ways on Othello by suggesting that his wife, Desdemona is having an affair with Othello’s newly appointed lieutenant, Cassio. Othello respects Iago as an honest and loyal person so he believes the circumstantial evidence that Iago presents to him, “by heaven, I’ll know thy thoughts”. (1337) Throughout the play, Iago constantly fuels Othello's suspicions until his jealousy and mistrust for his wife grow to the point that he finally kills her and himself.
Iago is an evil person but that is all he is guilty of being. Othello was a proven warrior and was respected by high ranking officials because of his proven leadership. However, Othello was a bad judge of character and exercised poor judgment throughout the play by blindly and naively believing Iago’s lies. He did not trust the people that truly loved him and were most loyal to him. This character flaw was exploited masterfully by Iago, to the point that Othello became insanely jealous of the perceived affair between Desdemona and Cassio.
In the play A Doll’s House, Nils Krogstad is a desperate man, but not necessarily an evil person. He has committed a minor indiscretion in the past which caused society to turn its back on him. He threatens to reveal Nora’s long kept secret that she too has committed such an indiscretion by forging her father’s name on a loan from Krogstad. He explains to Nora: “Mrs. Helmer, you evidently don’t clearly realize what you’re guilty of. But, believe me, my one mistake, which cost me my whole reputation, was nothing more and nothing less than what you did. (1616) Krogstad’s behavior and motives are based on the fact that he does not want to lose his job at the bank where Nora’s husband Torvald manages. In a desperate attempt to keep his job and spare his children from hardship, he uses Nora to influence her husband. Her attempts to save Krogstad’s job fail because Torvald is convinced that Krogstad is a liar and a cheat and he will not jeopardize his moral character or be swayed by his wife. He states, “Do you think I’m going to make myself look ridiculous in front of my whole staff, and let people think I can be pushed around by all sorts of outside influence? (1624) It is the actions of Torvald, not Krogstad, which ultimately causes Nora to leave and thus ending their marriage. During the majority of the play he is a pompous and patronizing husband. He looks at himself as superior to Nora, never looking at her as an equal contributing member of the family. It was his inability to change that tortured Nora so much that during a conversation with Mrs. Linde, she referred to the possibility by saying, “Or the miracle that’s going to happen! (1632) Change could have greatly helped Torvald if he only had possessed the ability to look at himself as Nora’s husband and not her owner. Krogstad, in contrast is selfless to the point that he was willing to do anything, even something dishonorable, to save his family. When the two men are compared, it is obvious who is really to blame for the failed relationship between Nora and Torvald. Although Iago and Krogstad play the roles of adversary in the respective plays, it is Othello and Torvald that are to blame for their marriages falling apart.
Othello is unwilling to question Iago’s ploy that causes his relationship with Desdemona to deteriorate. Torvald meanwhile is too concerned with what others in the community think and their overall perception of him. To some level, the reader can feel a little sympathy towards Othello and Torvald and their tragic situation, but without doubt they are two men that are outwardly persuaded by others, whether it is an evil person like Iago, or in Torvald’s case, his entire community.