Malignant Iago of Shakespeare's Othello

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Pure evil is like a cancerous plague that harms all those who come upon it. In the tragic play “Othello” by William Shakespeare, Iago is a character that represents pure evil – a malignant cancer to all those around him. His evil is exposed through his choice of words, his ability to manipulate people, and his opportunistic ways.

First, Iago’s evil is shown through his choice of words that demonstrate his vulgarity and his sinister intentions. Iago’s language is extremely base and forward; he does show any remorse or sympathy in any situation. For example, Desdemona has recently married Othello; when Desdemona’s father, Brabantio, hears the news he becomes enraged. To make the situation much worse, Iago says to Brabantio, “An old black ram is tupping your white ewe.” (Act 1,sc.i, lines 89-90). Clearly, Iago shows absolutely no remorse. He describes the beauty of love between two human beings and compares it to two animals. He gives Brabantio the impression that Othello is devouring Desdemona; this is seen when Iago describes Othello as an old black ram and Desdemona as a white ewe, black being evil and white being of purity and innocence. Another example of Iago’s vulgarity is when he once again describes (to Brabantio), the relationship between Desdemona and Othello as, “Making the beast with two backs.” (Act 1, sc.i, line 117). His base language is shown once again. In this quote he describes making love, as a beast with two backs; this is a description that is poisonous to the human mind. He is cruel by telling Brabantio that his daughter is making a beast with Othello in bed; when he speaks of it, it is like his heart is made of stone. His vulgarity expresses his evil nature.


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... and by his ability to see opportunity. Hence, in the play “Othello,” by William Shakespeare, Iago is a malignant character. Sinister thoughts implicate devious thoughts and evil intentions.

Works Cited

Bloom, Harold. "Introduction" Modern Critical Interpretations, Othello Ed. Harold Bloom, Pub. Chelsea House New Haven CT 1987. (1-6)

Jones, Eldred. "Othello- An Interpretation" Critical Essays on Shakespeare’s Othello. Ed. Anthony G. Barthelemy Pub. Macmillan New York, NY 1994. (page 39-55)

Barthelemy, Anthony G. "Introduction" Critical Essays on Shakespeare’s Othello. Ed. Anthony G. Barthelemy Pub. Macmillan New York, NY 1994. (page 1-19)

Bartels, Emily C. "Strategies of submission: Desdemona, the Duchess, and the assertion of desire" Studies of English Literature Spring 1996: (Online) accessed. April 27 2000 http://www. Galileo
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