Iago in William Shakespeare's Othello

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In Othello, the character of Iago is alienated from society by his personal values. He is used by Shakespeare to demonstrate societies assumptions and moral values on a whole. Iago is the main antagonist to Othello in this story, and he succeeds in his plan to ruin Othello by forcing him to believe that Desdemona is cheating on him. Because Iago succeeds, because he was able to carry off the plan, we are able to see exactly the assumptions on society that Shakespeare laid out to demonstrate. These assumptions and morals fall under three main categories: that people largely use each other, that we should do whatever needs to be done to go for our goals, and that the words of a man and more believable than those of a woman, even when it is a wife. Shakespeare uses Iago to demonstrate all three of these quite well. The very basis of the character Iago is used to demonstrate that a value within society is that it is okay for people to use each other. Iago is made to be constantly using other people, using his so-called friends. He acts as a friend to Othello, gaining his trust, simply so that he will be able to backstab him later. He never intends to be a real friend, and in fact is plotting the entire time. Iago also uses Roderigo, someone that we originally view as his friend. He uses Roderigo for money only, promises him things, but simply takes his money. Iago also uses his wife, Emilia to contribute to his plot. Iago has no real comrades; no person that he meets is not used by him for evilness. Yet, Shakespeare does not have us see Iago’s actions as uncommon. We accept that he is using Roderigo and Emilia, we accept that he will attempt to gain Othello’s trust simply to backstab him. We are made to believe that this is okay, and even to be expected. This demonstrates societies moral value, that it is okay to use people like this, that it is okay for Iago to act as he has. The second thing that Shakespeare demonstrates to us is societies value that it is all right to go so far as to commit murder to gain personal advantage. That it is justifiable to commit horrible sins simply for personal advancement. Iago is used to demonstrate this through his own justification for his plan.
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