Iago can be clearly characterized as the villain in Shakespeare’s Othello. The notion of the "honest" Iago does at times appear not to be a misnomer. In this essay I shall attempt to explore the complexities contained within the character of Iago.
One of the most interesting questions that crops up is the one concerning Iago’s motives. What are his reasons to kill every major Venetian in Cyprus? Shakespeare seemingly sets the stage for Iago’s actions, giving him two distinct reasons to avenge Othello. The first is the fact that Othello promotes Cassio, an "arithmetician" to the rank of lieutenant and passes over Iago who is but a sergeant. Secondly, Iago is suspicious of his wife, Emilia and thinks she is sleeping with every other man but him—including Othello. There are other reasons that Iago talks about in his soliloquies—the primary one being jealousy or "the green-eyed monster." Iago resents the love that Othello and Desdemona share and also takes offence at the fact that Othello is older, yet he has a young and beautiful wife, power, and respect, all that Iago desires. However, all these reasons seem to be false and made-up just for the sake of being excuses for his malice or perhaps they seem to sum up a sense of paranoia.
Furthermore he uses these reasons to convince Roderigo to hate Othello. The real motive seems but a slip on Iago’s part w...
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Works Cited and Consulted
Bradley, A. C.. Shakespearean Tragedy. New York: Penguin, 1991.
Di Yanni, Robert. “Character Revealed Through Dialogue.” Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Reprint from Literature. N. p.: Random House, 1986.
Mack, Maynard. Everybody’s Shakespeare: Reflections Chiefly on the Tragedies. Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 1993.
Shakespeare. Othello. The Longman Anthology of British Literature. Ed. Rossi. New York: Longman, 1999. 312-379.
Shakespeare, William. Othello. In The Electric Shakespeare. Princeton University. 1996.
http://www.eiu.edu/~multilit/studyabroad/othello/othello_all.html No line nos.
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