Shakespeare's Othello - Iago as Good Strategician and Lucky Opportunist

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Iago - Good Strategician and Lucky Opportunist

Like with many evil personalities in history and literature the question is always asked did he really plan to make this happen or was it just luck and convenient circumstances, was it intentional or just circumstantial. To determine how good Iago really is at plotting and whether it is really his own influence or just lucky circumstances that cause events I will examine his asides, soliloquies and interaction with key characters because they give an extra insight into his character.

In the first scene we are thrown right into the action with the argument between Iago and Roderigo. This first argument shows us how Iago is cunning and sly because he has already manipulated a weak Roderigo into paying him for something he hasn't even done yet. Roderigo who is obviously weak and simple has asked Iago to help him woo Desdemona in exchange for money, he thinks Iago has not done this because Desdemona is now at this moment marrying the moor. Yet Iago manages to convince Roderigo of his sheer hatred for Othello and swindle him out of his money. As he later exerts in his soliloquy at the end of Act I.3 ' thus do I ever make my fool my purse' this shows his attitude to Roderigo he is just money for Iago a pawn in his plan. This attitude shows how to a certain extent Iago primes the character he will use later in his plan showing a consistent strategy, he knows he can use Roderigo in the future so keeps him on his side instead of being rude and sharp with him. You can see that Iago finds Roderigo tedious but keeps him a friend for his money and possible use in the future.

As he goes on to speak he shows his jealousy and frustration, which ...

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... still no closer to finding out. Similarly with Iago there is no doubt that he is intelligent and quick-witted and his bitterness and jealousy fuels his plans but to an extent the circumstances played as big a role as the character. Shakespeare created Iago and the circumstances because they reacted well together and made an interesting and exciting plot. So I believe it is fair to say that Iago, as a character is both a good strategician and a lucky opportunist in equal measures.

Works Consulted:

Muir, Kenneth. Introduction. William Shakespeare: Othello. New York: Penguin Books, 1968.

Shakespeare, William. "The Tragedy of Othello the Moor of Venice" The Norton Shakespeare. Ed. Stanley Wells & |Gary Taylor. New York/London, W.W. Norton Company,1997. 2100-2174

Wain, John. Shakespeare's Othello - A Casebook. London: MacMillan Press. 1994

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