Iago as a Satan Figure in Shakespeare's Othello

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Iago as a Satan Figure in Othello

The play "Othello" by William Shakespeare is based on an Italian story in Giraldi Cinthio's Hecatommithi (Groliers). In "Othello" we encounter Iago, one of Shakespeare's most evil characters. Iago is an ensign in Othello's army and is jealous of Cassio's promotion to Lieutenant. Through deception and appearance, we see unfolded a plethora of lies and clever schemes. The astonishing thing about Iago is that he seems to make up his malicious schemes as he goes along without any forethought. Noted writer Samuel Taylor Coleridge describes Iago's plan as "motive-hunting of a motiveless malignity" (Scott 413). Iago seizes every opportunity to further advance his plan to his advantage. Greed plays a major role as a motive for his various schemes. Throughout the story, Iago portrays himself as a Satan figure. In many ways, Iago can compare with Satan.

Iago, like Satan, has proved himself to be a master at deception. He lies to everyone taking great care to disguise his own thoughts. For example, in Act 1, scene 2, when he is speaking to Othello about his feelings toward Cassio, he uses very strong language of a manly soldier, while at the same time, he lies throughout the whole speech faking loyalty to a fellow soldier and all the while implying that he is reluctantly holding back the full truth: "I had rather have this tongue cut from my mouth/ Than it should do offense to Michael Cassio" (I.ii.21-22). This deception impresses and convinces Othello that his ensign is a good and loyal soldier. Iago also succeeds in deceiving Cassio. After Cassio's drunken fight, Iago counsels him to speak to Desdimona about trying to convince Othello to reinstate him as lieutenant, all th...

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... to refer to him as, He says: "I am the I AM. . ." (Ex. 3:14). Iago says that he is the I am not. He is, in essence, the exact reverse of God. As we have seen, metaphorically and by example, Iago has proven to be the epitome of evil in that he uses the same tactics that Satan does to get what he wants.

Works Cited

Carey, Gary M.A. Cliff's Notes. Cliff's Notes Incorperated. Lincoln Nebraska,1980.

Holy Bible. New American Standard Version.

The New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopidia. Rel. 6. CD-ROM. Online Computer Systems Incorperated. 1993.

Scott, Mark. Critical Interperatation of Othello. from Shakespeare for Students. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research Incorperated, 1992. 411-457.

Shakespeare, William. Othello, The Moor of Venice. from Literature and the Writing Process. McMahon, Day, Funk. Prentice-Hall Publishers: New Jersey, 1996. 864-947.
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