The Role of Iago in William Shakespeare’s Othello

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The Role of Iago in William Shakespeare’s Othello As in any Shakespearean tragedy, there are opposing forces that bring about the tragic ending. William Shakespeare’s play Othello would not be one without an evil catalyst named Iago. He is a standard-bearer, or an “ancient” to the tragic hero Othello, who was a Moorish general in a Venetian army. In the play, Iago is the Satanic figure in whatever the word "evil" connotes. The word “evil” means that of which is morally bad or wrong, or that which causes harm, pain, or misery (Popkin, par. 1). There are several traits or characteristics that are common to both Iago and Satan. According Professor William Grace, of Fordham University, “Both Iago and Satan are skilled deceivers, accomplished liars, experts in applied psychology, and in the manipulation of the innocent” (par. 1). Theologically, however, Professor William Grace also generalizes that “Satan creates more havoc, waste, and suffering than Iago” (par. 1). It is true that Satan affects a larger worldwide scale than Iago. However, it could be proven that Iago’s thinking and ways creates an incarnation of Satan in the play. As Professor Andrew Bradley writes, “Evil has nowhere else been portrayed with such mastery as in the characters of Iago” (Brooke par. 4) Both Iago and Satan also rejected good ideas and beliefs. “The Moor […] is of a constant, loving, noble nature” (Oth. 2.1.310-311); Desdemona is “framed as fruitful/ As the free elements” (2.3.361-362). One can see that Iago recognizes beauty, truth, and goodness in an objective way, and he rejects and wishes to corrupt them. This is proven by the line in which he says, “So will I turn her virtue into pitch, And out of her own goodness the net That s... ... middle of paper ... ...ls, and immortality, prove that Iago is indeed a Satan figure. Bibliography: Works Cited Bokenkotter, Thomas. Dynamic Catholicism, New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc., 1985, 1986. Bradley, Andrew. Shakespearean Tragedy, New York: Meridan Books, 1955. Brooke, Tucker. “Romantic Iago.” online posting 23 July 98 , 1918. Grace, William. “Critical Commentary.” online posting. 7 June 1999 Bureau of Electronic Publishing, 1963-1990. Morrow, Lance. “Evil”. Time. Time Inc., 1991 Popkin, Richard. “Evil” Microsoft® Encarta® 97 Interactive Encyclopedia. © 1993-1996 Microsoft Corporation. Shakespeare, William. Othello. Mowat, Barbara A., ed. And Westine, ed. New York: Washington Square Press, 1992. The New American Bible, Stephen J. Hartdegen, O.F.M., S.S.L., gen. ed., Christian P. Cereoke, ed. New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1986.
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