The Evil Iago of Shakespeare's Othello

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"How shall I murder him, Iago?" This one line, spoken by Othello, in Shakespeare's play of the same name speaks volumes of the evil and deceitful nature of the character being spoken to, Iago. The ability to turn a noble, self controlled, respected man such as Othello into a raving, murderous lunatic can only be had by an evil man such as Iago. Iago is conniving, vengeful, vain, ruinous, dishonest, egotistical and paranoid. This makes him one of the most evil men in all of literature.

The first of many examples of Iago's villainy occurs in scene one of act one. His vain ego has been hurt. Othello has chosen a "bookish theoric" to be his lieutenant instead of Iago. Iago has this to say of Othello's choice:

Forsooth, a great arithmetician,

One Michael Cassio, a Florentine,

A fellow almost dammed in a fair wife,

That never set a squadron in the field

Nor the division of a battle knows

More than a spinster--unless the bookish theoric,

Wherein the togaed consuls can propose

As masterly as he. Mere prattle without practice

Is all his soldiership. But he, sir, had th' election;

And I, of whom his eyes had seen the proof

At Rhodes, at Cyprus, and on other grounds

Christianed and heathen, must be beleed and calmed

By debitor and creditor. This countercaster,

He, in good time, must his lieutenant be,

And I--God bless the mark!--his Moorship's ancient.

This position is one Iago expected, not only because of his seniority in battle, but also because of his seniority with Othello himself.

Iago clearly shows his vengefulness when he tells Roderigo: “Call up her father.Rouse him, make after him, poison his delight...”&n...

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...bolical plan. He has traded "wife for wife" as Othello has smothered, albeit regretfully, Desdemona. When discovered by Emilia, Othello confesses, saying it was Iago that persuaded him to murder her. Emilia tells Othello too late of the lies told by her husband and she dies at the hands of Iago for her confession. Iago's lies have come to a crescendo and Othello realizes he has been deceived. Othello then commits suicide and we find, in this case, in order for love to conquer all, evil must triumph. As is the case oftentimes in real life, there is no happy ending.

Iago is, for the literary world, evil incarnate. He lies and deceives with half-truths, to achieve his revenge, causing distrust and ultimately murder and suicide. This makes Iago one of the most evil, but most memorable characters, if not in all of literature, at least in all of Shakespeare.
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