Iago is one of the most complex characters in William Shakespeare’s Othello. To most of the characters, he is “Honest Iago” (Shakespeare, 5.2.73). however, the audience knows that Iago is the furthest thing from honest. Iago is a devil bent on destroying the lives of everyone around him. At the beginning of the play, the audience learns that Iago is determined to ruin Othello’s marriage to Desdemona. He has appointed a new lieutenant, Michael Cassio. This angers Iago because he feels that he has much more military experience and should be the lieutenant. Iago has also heard rumours that both Othello and Cassio have slept with his wife Emilia. He concocts a malicious plan to ruin the lives of all who have wronged him, and consequently establishing
Iago does not only serve as the antagonist in this play, but he also is the vehicle by which the play progresses. They play in the beginning did not have much action in it because Iago was still deciding as to how he would kill Othello. Then, as his plan develops the play also progresses. He forces characters into taking actions they never would have normally considered and all the while he just sits back and maintains his innocent smile and trusting façade. And that "is how a villain is defined." A villain "can alter those actions around them without them knowing it." (Campbell 116). We saw Iago do that on several occasions. For example he was able to convince Roderigo to give him money and to try growing a beard. He also convinced Othello into thinking that Casio was an irresponsible drunk, and he convinced Desdemona into thinking he was going to do everything he could to patch things up with her and Othello. While all he was actually doing was just trying to keep Roderigo busy so he would stay out of the picture. And then with Othello he was turning friend against friend, and with Desdemona it was lover against lover. And all the while these people thought he had their best interest in mind.
The Character of Iago
The old cliché "One bad apple ruins the bunch" is what enters one's mind when discussing the villainous, deceitful, protagonist Iago in Shakespeare's tragedy "Othello. " It is amazing how one person alone can completely destroy, or deteriorate a group of good natured, trusting, loyal peoples' lives in a matter of days- three to be exact. What is the motive behind Iago's heinous, selfish acts, one may ask? A rather obvious theme in the Shakespeare's tragedy, "Othello", is that of the many facets of jealousy, which instigate the evil-doings of protagonist, Iago.
Throughout the play there are countless instances that fully showcase Iago’s manipulative capabilities. For example, when convincing Othello that Desdemona has given Cassio her handkerchief, he says, “And to see how he prizes the foolish woman your wife! She gave it to him, and he hath giv’n it his whore.”(Shakespeare 4.1. 196-198). It is these exact words that lead Othello to his jealous murder of Desdemona which leads to large amounts of death and destruction towards the end of the play. The DSM elaborates on this criterion by describing the person in question as “frequently deceitful and manipulative in order to gain personal profit or pleasure” (DSM 660). This is consistent with Iago’s character as well, seeing as how his agenda against Cassio is only to promote himself in his ranks. He also seeks to destroy Othello in order to get back at him for promoting Cassio instead of himself. Another reason for Iago’s hatred towards Othello is that he has been accused of sleeping with Emilia, Iago’s wife. Both these motives are centered around revenge and selfish desires. Earlier in the play, Iago’s manipulation is brilliantly showcased through his interactions with Roderigo. In fact, when the ever slow and gullible Roderigo finally begins to catch onto the fact that Iago is using him, Iago says, “Thou hast taken
In the analysis of Iago’s character, we find that the true motive for his villainous acts is simply jealousy. Throughout the course of the novel, we are confronted with some of the motives for Iago’s jealousy. He believes that Othello has been having an affair with Emilia. He also despises Cassio because of the promotion he received.
An important reason that makes Iago is such a fascinating character is the fact that there is little known about him. Unlike the other characters in this play, Iago cannot be given any clear description about who he is as a person. Desdemona is the typical pure virgin type, Roderigo is a rich fool in love, and Cassio is a handsome Venetian army Lieutenant. For Iago there is no other apparent about his character other than his snake like personality. The information about him is that he is a general to Othello, and is married to Desdemona’s hand maiden, Emilia. This is all that is known about Iago, the reader is given no background. The main mystery about Iago is why he executes his devious plan. Through the whole play, the reader is looking for reasons or hints as to why Iago has become so evil. By the end of the play there is no clear reason for him going after Othello. When describing why he plans to ruin Othello he gives two reasons; rumors about his wife having an affair with Othello, and a hint about affections for Desdemona. Both of these reasons are said in a vague off-handed type manner, giving the reader no true motive for Iago. Even in the very end of the play, after he’s been caught Iago refuses to give a...
In Shakespeare’s play Othello, Iago is the character that causes most of the problems in the play, and can be classified as the villain of the story. Iago is a character that is very jealous of Cassio and Othello because they hold positions that he believes he should have. He also believes that his wife has cheated on him with Othello. “Iago represents evil and cruelty for its own sake. He is deeply unpleasant and this is revealed to the audience in no uncertain terms in his numerous asides.” (Jameson) Iago is a character who acts different depending on what people he is around, obviously he is not going to say some of the same things when Othello or Cassio are around as he does when they are not there. “Even now, now, very now, an old black ram Is tupping your white ewe.”(1.1.91-92) Iago was very manipulative throughout the course of the play, and often got what he wanted by being this way. “Iago is consumed with envy and plots to steal the position he feels he most justly deserves. Iago deceives, steals, and kills to gain that position.” (Jarret) Iago is a classical type of villain that is the root of all probl...
In the play, Othello, written by William Shakespeare Iago is one of the most unique and interesting characters. Not only is Iago a main character, but he is also one of the most controversial, causing more drama and quarrels than any other character in the play. Shakespeare does a good job with the character of Iago by creating an atmosphere where Iago can keep the reader's attention on each and every individual scene throughout the entire play, as one tries to figure out Iago's true intentions. When reading the play it is easy for an individual to view Iago as an evil person who gets pleasure from malicious acts he inflicts upon others around him.
While reading the play “The Tragedy Of Othello” by Shakespeare I realized that it was almost like reading one big poem. Many of Shakespeare’s plays have a rhyme scheme this is called blank verse, “written prodomintaly in blank verse, Othello also includes prose passages (many spoken by Iago) and rhymed couplets (which punctuate the ends of some scenes)” (DiYanni 1011). The character I took the most interest in was Iago. He is portrayed as the villain throughout the play. Iago claims that he always speaks the truth when everything is an elaborated lie to manipulate others. Iago is married to Emilia, it was surprising to me that he did have a wife because he doesn’t have a good view on women. He believes they are suppose to be servants and housewives. In his view lying and cheating is the way to get things done. What makes Iago one of the worst shakespeare villains is, he is out to
As early as the first scene of the play Iago shows us strong motives for his actions. In this first scene we see Othello, a general of Venice, has made Cassio his new lieutant. Iago feels he truly deserves his promotion as he says "I know my price, I am worth more no worse a place."(l.i.12) Iago over here is confused why Othello has made such a stupid decision. Iago is a man with a tremendous ego who knows, sometimes overestimates, his worth. Roderigo, a Venetian gentleman, understands Iago when Iago said that he is "affined to love the Moor."(l.i.41-42) What Iago really means is "I follow him to serve my term upon him."(l.i.45) Iago wants to use Othello for his personal goals. We also must put ourselves into Iago's shoes. He is a man whose self-esteem and professional carrier have just been torn apart. Iago makes his actions of revenge toward Othello almost immediately by informing Brabantio, a Venetian senator and father of Desdemona, that "an old black ram (Othello) is tupping (his) white ewe (Desdemona)."(l.i.97)