Iago, the Outsider of Shakespeare’s Othello Essay

Iago, the Outsider of Shakespeare’s Othello Essay

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In any story with a recurring dark theme there always must be an outsider from humanity who somehow stands out from the seemingly equal community. In the case of Shakespeare’s Othello the outsider from humanity would be Iago for he truly stands out from the rest of society. Although Othello may be physically put out of the community, it seems that on an emotional and egotistical level Iago puts himself out of society further then Othello’s blackness does. He is not merely manipulative, as other villains are; he turns aspects of truth and good qualities, which he does not possess, and uses them as weakness for his own scheme. He deceives people to follow his plans by telling them the truth and what seems to be good advice. By standing on the side and watching people he seems to learn more about them then they even know themselves. He seems to envy these people and the relationships that they possess, becuase he will never know what these connections feel like. He uses people’s strengths as their weaknesses to bring them to their doom. He causes much destruction and is driven by a force that the reader cannot even understand. Iago makes himself an outsider by not realizing that his ego causes him to hate and disrespect all of humanity.
Iago respects no one and yet is cunning enough to make people continue to trust and respect him. This is a truly super human quality in Iago that allows him to manipulate people to do what he wants without them knowing. He is married to Emilia, and although the reader would see marriage as a sacred bond, Iago manipulates it for his selfish ways. It may be his careless marriage that causes him to feel that he must destroy Desdemona’s and Othello’s. This would show his childish, jealous mentality towards others. The reason he treats Emilia so badly may be that he blames her for their dysfunctional marriage. From this, she has gained a perhaps not so tainted image of men and husbandry. She describes men “are all but stomachs, and we all but food; they eat us hungerly, and when they are full, they belch us.” (III, iv, 98-100) Iago treats Emilia as if she were a slave at his every whim and she knows it but for some reason Iago has tricked her into thinking that’s the way life is in marriage; so although Emilia may seem like the more experienced character in the play she herself cannot even see the corruptness in Iago’s ways.
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... His plan stays secretive throughout the entire play. It leaves the characters in the play as well as the reader with an eerie brooding feeling at the end. The only reason that comes to mind is his jealousy of the nobility that the other characters possess. It may be that there is no motive but his pure hatred for humanity and if he must be a part of it, he will create a hell for everyone else in it.
     Iago is the perfect villain in the sense that he is a true outsider from humanity. You can almost respect him in the fact that he can do such wrong with absolutely no recognition of the destruction he has caused. Plus he is able to manipulate people’s good qualities such as trust and love and use them for his own immoral benefit. It may be that Iago himself does not possess any of these good qualities so he cannot understand goodness or it might be that he is merely jealous of the beautiful relationships and noble people surrounding him and he has had enough. Whatever the reason, Iago purposely puts himself outside of humanity because he is egotistical in nature and feels that he deserves to disrespect everyone.

Shakespeare, William. Othello. New York: Oxford School, 2002.

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