Shakespeare's Othello Essay - Honest Iago

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Othello - Honest Iago

The most interesting and round character in the tragic play Othello, by

William Shakespeare, is "honest" Iago. Through carefully though-out words

and actions, Iago manipulates others to do things in which he benefits.

Iago is the main driving force in "Othello," pushing several characters

towards their tragic end.

Iago is not a traditional villain for he plays a unique and complex

role. Unlike most villains in tragic plays, evidence of Iago's deception

is not clearly visible. Iago is smart and an excellent judge of people

and their characters. He uses this keen sense of knowledge to his

advantage. For example, Iago knows that Roderigo has feelings for

Desdemona and assumes he would do anything to have her as his own. Iago

attempts to manipulate Roderigo by saying:

It cannot be that Desdemona should long continue her love to the Moor-

put money in thy purse- nor he his to her: It is a violent commencement,

and thou shalt see and answerable sequestration; put but money in thy


[Act I, Scene III].

By playing on Roderigo's hopes, Iago swindles money and jewels from

Roderigo, making himself a substantial profit. Iago also says, "Thus do I

ever make my fool my purse" [Act I, Scene III] once Roderigo has left.

"Honest" Iago cleverly disguises his own goals as Roderigo blindly

follows him.

Iago continually operates with alterier motives in "Othello." Iago takes

advantage of his friendships with Cassio as well as Roderigo. Cassio

blindly follows Iago, thinking the entire time that Iago is trying to

help him. During this whole time, Iago plans the demise of Cassio, his

supposed friend. In order to obtain Cassio's position as lieutenant, Iago

convinces Cassio to take another drink, knowing very well that it will

make him drunk and disgrace him. Iago obviously tries to tarnish Cassio's

character when he says, "What, man! 'Tis a night of revels: the gallants

desire it" [Act II, Scene III]. Iago is able to make Cassio defy his own

reasoning and reluctantly take another drink. As a result of his devious

scheming, Iago's achieves his goal and Othello terminates Cassio as his

lieutenant. Iago successfully manipulates the people around him by

building a trust, a trust in which all of Iago's victims believe to be an

honest trust.

The friendship and honesty Iago falsely imposes upon Othello makes it

easy for Othello to never imagine the possibility that Iago has evil

motives. Othello holds Iago as his close friend and advisor. He believes

Iago to be a person, "of exceeding honesty, [who] knows all qualities,
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