Jealousy is a powerful emotion that can blind oneself from identifying the truth. Shakespeare heavily emphasizes this theme throughout the drama Othello, especially through the actions of characters. In the play the heinous antagonist, Iago, uses each character’s jealousy to deceive that person and manipulate the truth. His false promises and deceitfulness bring to the demise of many of the main characters in the play, including the protagonist, Othello. Othello could not have been deceived if it were not for his powerful jealousy. Therefore, Shakespeare is telling us that jealousy is an ugly trait that can hide the truth, which in turn causes many problems between characters in the play.
Iago’s machinations yield him both “sport” and “profit” (1.3.387); that is, he enjoys his evildoing, although he is also driven by a motive. This Vice-like behavior inhuman garb creates a restless sense of a dark metaphysical reality lying behind his visible exterior. Even his stated motives do not always make sense. When in an outburst of hatred he soliloquizes that “I hate the Moor; / And it is thought abroad that twixt my sheets / He’s done my office,” Iago goes on to concede the unlikelihood of this charge. [. . .] The charge is so absurd, in fact, that we have to look into Iago himself for the origin of this jealous paranoia. (223)
Othello was very easily manipulated and could be persuaded to do certain actions that ultimately took his life. Iago was a great manipulator as well as a trickster to get what he wanted. Jealousy played a role into every aspect of both Othello’s and Iago’s lives. Jealousy destroys Othello inside and out with all of the lies he was told about Desdemona by Iago. Iago was never fond of Othello and was jealous that he was so respected and had a beautiful wife. Jealousy in Iago was also motivated by him thinking that Othello might have slept with his wife Emilia. Iago hid his jealousy, and he played all of his roles well with Cassio, Desdemona, Emilia, Roderigo, and especially Othello. In the movie “O”, you could see all of the roles that Hugo was playing with all of the characters and how jealous he was. However, you could see how the jealousy in Iago was motivated. Also, in the movie “O”, you could see how Iago messed with his brain and how it affected him so greatly.
Not only does Iago hate Othello, he also has a strong hatred for Cassio. His hatred for Cassio also has to do with the want for power. There was a position open under Othello and the two soldiers it came down to when considering who may receive the position were Cassio and Iago. Iago believed he worked extremely hard to earn the position, and he considered himself to be a strong, capable candidate to feel the position of general's second in command. Iago is not able to understand why Cassio was given the position over him because Cassio is a math guy, and Iago thinks of himself as the next
Louis B. Wright and Virginia A. LaMar in “The Engaging Qualities of Othello” comment on how the character of Iago is the wholly expected type of villain for an Elizabethan audience:
In the play Othello, the character Iago plays a paramount role in the destruction of Othello and all of those around him. Some critics state that Iago's actions are motiveless and that he is a purely evil character. However, during the course of this paper, certain motives for Iago's actions will be discussed.
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)
There are many literary works that contain villains who play an essential role in the development of the work as a whole. However, I believe that the ultimate villain of this kind is Iago in Shakespeare’s play, Othello. Through manipulation and scheming, he beguiles the other characters of the novel.
A classic megalomaniac, Iago suffers from a massive ego, and therefore feels intensely jealous when talent other than his own is recognized. The play opens to Iago announcing that he hates Othello,”Despise me If I do not. Three great ones of the city, In personal suit to make me his lieutenant, Off-capped to him; and by the faith of man, I know my price, I am worth no worse a place” (1,1,8-12). It is Othello’s pride and partiality towards his friends, Iago claims, that caused him to choose Cassio as lieutenant in lieu of his “Ancient”. While Iago is understandably slighted that a man, whose knowledge of war came from a book rather than the field, has been appointed to a position over him, saying that it was Othello’s pride that produced Cassio’s promotion suggests that Iago t...
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. Jealousy can be best defined, in the thinking of Renaissance, as a derivative or compounded passion. It is a species of envy, which is in turn a species of hatred. Hatred finds its opposite in love and is opposed to love. Envy is opposed to mercy. Yet while jealousy is opposed to love, it often rises from love. Like envy, it has something of the grief or fear that comes from seeing another in possession of what which we would possess solely for ourselves. Though jealousy is compounded, it still partakes in the nature of hatred, and hatred brings in its wake anger and revenge (Nardo 122). This could not be more accurate in the horrid actions Iago resorts to in his insatiable desire to get what he feels is rightfully his, regardless of who he hurts along the way. Iago serves as a prime example that keeping your enemies closest does not always work to your advantage. Let us now examine the heights of deceit to which Iago rises in his selfish, tactless rage to acquire what he wants. The best demonstration of Iago's jealous ways are shown through his twisted motives and his strategically planned out course of action in which he...