Iago is Othello’s ancient captain in the Venetian defense forces. He had hoped for a promotion but Othello passed over him in favor of Cassio, and Iago works revenge on them both. He exploits Roderigo as a source of money and an unwitting accomplice in his plot to bring down Othello. When finally cornered and charged with his wickedness, Iago refuses to speak or to repent or explain his actions, and he goes to his punishment still surrounded by mystery. Iago is an artist of evil. He enjoys ruining people’s lives and he does it with a craftsmanship, appreciating the elegance or the cleverness of a particular step in his schemes as much as its final results.
Iago’s opinion and treatment of women in the play also contributes to the audience’s perception of him as cruel and unpleasant. Iago treats his wife Emilia in a very derogatory way,”It is a common thing… To have a foolish wife” (Iago Act 3 Scene 3, Line 306 and 308). Even when she pleases him he calls her “A good wench” (Line 319). This could be due to his belief that she has had an affair but his character is so consistently unpleasant that as an audience we do not assign his malignancy to her behaviour. An audience may even collude in Emilia’s belief that if she did cheat; Iago deserved it. “But I do think it is their husbands faults if wives do fall” (Emilia Act 5 Scene 1, Line 85-86).
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... implanting images into the head of Othello, through suggestions to both Cassio and Roderigo, Iago causes the downfall of them all. As the audience we see the basis of Iago’s success as carefully built trust with individual characters. It is that trust form “honest” Iago that his so called friends dare to doubt.
To sum it all up Iago in William Shakespeare’s Othello unequivocally plays an important and major function in the tragedy of Othello. By the end of the play Iago has been directly responsible for the deaths of Roderigo, Emilia and the protagonist and his love. Iago’s importance to the play is revealed by his contribution to the plot and his significance relative to other characters. Iago’s function which invariably adds to the importance he has on the play, is to lead to the downfall of Othello therefore revealing the themes of hate,jealousy and revenge.
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