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Iago as the Hero of Othello by Shakespeare

analytical Essay
1126 words
1126 words
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Iago as the Hero of Othello by Shakespeare

In most plays and novels, the protagonist is the main character, who is viewed as a good

person who has bad things happen to him or her. Likewise, the antagonist is portrayed as evil and villainous, and seeks to destroy the moral protagonist. Many readers and critics perceive Iago as evil, manipulative, and antagonistic. He directly seeks to destroy Othello, Cassio, Roderigo, and any other good character, out of selfish and unprovoked rage. The critic, W.H. Auden, says this in reference to Iago, " Iago is a wicked man. The wicked man, the stage villain...the suffering he inflicts is real (48)." In the play Othello, Othello is viewed as the good, and intelligent character. He is loving wise, and the ideal soldier. The critic William Empson defines him as, "the personification of honour (44)." For these reasons, many readers side with Othello as being the heroic protagonist of the story. Othello is living a successful life, newly married, and prospering until Iago decides to step in. By looking at the play in another perspective, Iago, not Othello, can be viewed as a heroic and good character. Despite Othello's role in the play and portrayal by the critic, Iago's desire and motive to create a better life for himself, as well as his keen and cunning intellect, make him a heroic protagonistic character with whom the audience can sympathize.

Although disputed by the critic, Iago's motivation is not to be evil and villainous, but rather heroic. Iago is perceived as evil and self-absorbed, but his desires and dreams are like any other person's. Iago merely wishes to secure a better life for himself and his wife, Emilia. Iago wishes to earn the position of a lieutenant in Othello's army...

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...ctions, Iago is merely seeking his own happiness. Iago, just as Othello, is entitled to pursuing his happiness to whatever extent is pleasing to him. Unlike Iago, Othello is naive and unable to see through deception. Also, it is because of Othello's unfair decision to grant Cassio the promotion, that Iago is forced to protect his happiness and his dream. Iago's desire to secure the lieutenancy and create a better life for himself, and his willingness to stop at nothing in achieving his dream, is not villainous, but noble and acceptable.

Bibliography:

Auden, W.H. "Iago as the Practical Joker." Shakespeare's Major Tragedies. Ed. Harold Bloom.

Broomall, PA: Chelsea House Publishers, 2000. 47 - 51.

Empson, William. "Good and Evil in Othello." Shakespeare's Major Tragedies. Ed. Harold Bloom. Broomall, PA: Chelsea House Publishers, 2000. 44 - 46.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that in most plays and novels, the protagonist is the main character, who is viewed as a good character.
  • Analyzes how readers and critics perceive iago as evil, manipulative, and antagonistic. he seeks to destroy othello, cassio, roderigo and any other good character out of selfish and unprovoked rage.
  • Analyzes how iago's motivation is not to be evil and villainous, but rather heroic. he wants to secure a better life for himself and his wife, emilia.
  • Describes empson, william, and bloom's "good and evil in othello."
  • Analyzes how othello and iago share a protagonist/analogue relationship, portrayed through the soldier's desire to become lieutenant.
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