Shakespeare's Othello Essay - Honest Iago

Shakespeare's Othello Essay - Honest Iago

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Othello - Honest Iago

The most interesting and round character in the tragic play Othello, by
William Shakespeare, is "honest" Iago. Through carefully though-out words
and actions, Iago manipulates others to do things in which he benefits.
Iago is the main driving force in "Othello," pushing several characters
towards their tragic end.

Iago is not a traditional villain for he plays a unique and complex
role. Unlike most villains in tragic plays, evidence of Iago's deception
is not clearly visible. Iago is smart and an excellent judge of people
and their characters. He uses this keen sense of knowledge to his
advantage. For example, Iago knows that Roderigo has feelings for
Desdemona and assumes he would do anything to have her as his own. Iago
attempts to manipulate Roderigo by saying:
It cannot be that Desdemona should long continue her love to the Moor-
put money in thy purse- nor he his to her: It is a violent commencement,
and thou shalt see and answerable sequestration; put but money in thy
[Act I, Scene III].
By playing on Roderigo's hopes, Iago swindles money and jewels from
Roderigo, making himself a substantial profit. Iago also says, "Thus do I
ever make my fool my purse" [Act I, Scene III] once Roderigo has left.
"Honest" Iago cleverly disguises his own goals as Roderigo blindly
follows him.

Iago continually operates with alterier motives in "Othello." Iago takes
advantage of his friendships with Cassio as well as Roderigo. Cassio
blindly follows Iago, thinking the entire time that Iago is trying to
help him. During this whole time, Iago plans the demise of Cassio, his
supposed friend. In order to obtain Cassio's position as lieutenant, Iago
convinces Cassio to take another drink, knowing very well that it will
make him drunk and disgrace him. Iago obviously tries to tarnish Cassio's
 character when he says, "What, man! 'Tis a night of revels: the gallants
desire it" [Act II, Scene III]. Iago is able to make Cassio defy his own
reasoning and reluctantly take another drink. As a result of his devious
scheming, Iago's achieves his goal and Othello terminates Cassio as his
lieutenant. Iago successfully manipulates the people around him by
building a trust, a trust in which all of Iago's victims believe to be an
honest trust.

The friendship and honesty Iago falsely imposes upon Othello makes it
easy for Othello to never imagine the possibility that Iago has evil
motives. Othello holds Iago as his close friend and advisor. He believes
Iago to be a person, "of exceeding honesty, [who] knows all qualities,

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with a learned spirit" [Act III, Scene III]. Iago uses the trust Othello
has in him to turn Othello into a jealous man. The cleverness of Iago is
that he works upon one of the tragic flaws of Othello. Othello has the
tendency to take everything he is told at face value without questioning
the circumstances. Othello has no reason to doubt these accusations for
the "honest" Iago has to be telling him the truth. Iago is successful at
turning Othello against his own wife. Towards the end of Act IV, Iago's
influence can be seen in the conversation between Othello and his wife,
Desdemona. Othello sets a trap  for his wife when he asks, "Lend me thy
handkerchief" [Act IV, Scene III]. Iago creates the impression that
Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio in order to stir the jealousy
within Othello. Iago's influence upon Othello causes him to transform
from a flawless, military leader to a man driven to murder.

In Shakespeare's "Othello," Iago carefully and masterfully entraps the
other characters satisfying his appetite for revenge. Through deception,
Iago creates the appearance of good, which ultimately fools the people
around him into thinking he is loyal and honest. While simultaneously
implanting images into the head of Othello, through suggestions to both
Cassio and Roderigo, Iago causes the downfall of them all. As an
outsider, the audience views Iago's declarations to one character in
which he deceives another character. The basis of Iago's success comes
from the carefully built trust with individual characters. It is a trust
from "honest" Iago that his so-called friends do not dare doubt.
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