Iago of William Shakespeare's Othello

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Iago of William Shakespeare's Othello

Who is Iago? Iago poisons people's thoughts, creating ideas in their heads without implicating himself. His first victim is Roderigo. Roderigo remarks, "That thou, Iago, who hast had my purse as if the strings were thine." [Act I, Scene I, Line 2] Throughout the play, Iago leads Roderigo, professing that ". . . I do hate [the Moor] as I do Hell pains." [Act I, Scene I, Line 152] He tells Roderigo to "Put money in thy purse" [Act I, Scene III, Line 328] so that he can win Desdemona with gifts. Iago keeps for himself those gifts that Roderigo intends for Desdemona.

Iago is smart. He is an excellent judge of people and their characters. He knows Roderigo is in love with Desdemona and would do anything to have her as his own. Iago says about Roderigo, "Thus do I ever make my fool my purse." [Act I, Scene III, Line 359] By playing on Roderigo's hopes, Iago is able to swindle money and jewels from him, thus making himself a profit, while using Roderigo to forward his other goals. He observes of Othello "The Moor is of a free and open nature that thinks men honest that but seem to be so" [Act I, Scene III, Line 375]

How does Iago see others? He sees the world and other people as animalistic and ruled by their basest desires. Perhaps Iago knows this because he knows himself so well. Iago warns Brabanzio that "even now an old black ram is tupping your white ewe?you?ll have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse, you?ll have your nephews neigh to you, you?ll have coursers for cousins, and jennets for germans" [Act 1, Scene 1, Line 88 and 110] Iago describes Othello as a man ". . . will tenderly be led by the nose as asses are." [Act I, Scene III, Line 377] Iago tells Roderigo "I never found a man that know how to love himself . . . Virtue! A fig! Tis in ourselves that we are thus or thus. Our bodies are gardens, to which our wills are gardeners . . . If the balance of our lives had not one scale of reason to poise another of sensuality, the blood and baseness of our natures would conduct us to most preposterous conclusions." [Act I, Scene III, Line 308] Iago?s intelligence and knowledge of human nature (others? and his own) allow him to control the other characters with ease.

How does Iago see himself? "Others there are who, trimmed in forms and visages of duty, keep yet their hearts attending on themselves, ...

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...n conflict of the play. Iago plans to ruin Othello and Cassio by carrying out a plan based on lies and deceit. This plan will make Iago the only person that Othello believes he can trust, and Iago will use this trust to manipulate Othello.

Foremost, Iago first plan to ruin Othello is to use Roderigo?s weakness to help him remove Cassio from his lieutenant position, which will in turn lead to both Othello?s and Cassio?s demise. Iago tells Roderigo to "put money in thy purse" (Shakespeare 53). Iago urges Roderigo to earn money now so that he can win Desdemona?s heart. Iago tells Roderigo what he wants to hear in order to enlist his help. Iago states that he would never associate with someone like Roderigo except to gain his own ends. ?Thus do I ever make my fool my purse--/ For I mine own gained knowledge should profane/ If I would time expand with such a snipe/ But for my sport and profit? (Shakespeare 55). Iago feels that Roderigo is a foolish man who exists only for his use. He manipulates Roderigo to his fullest extent then says he does so for his own ?sport and profit.?

Works Cited:

Shakespeare, William. Othello. Ed. Alfred Harbab. Middlesex, England: Penguin, 1970.
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