Character Analysis of Iago from Othello

Length: 1114 words

“ Iago is a villain who is thoroughly bad and cold, yet he may be admired for his intelligence, understanding of the human spirit and his ability to manipulate certain individuals to believe him . ” Of all the characters in Shakespeare’s Othello, none is more complex and unknown than Iago. He displays a duplicitous character, honest and kind on the outside but truly a pure, evil and malignant person on the inside. Throughout the play he comes up with evil ideas to turn all his friends, who trust him, like Othello and Cassio against each other.

He achieves this by penetrating their deepest fears and concerns, into a web of hatred “ make the net that shall emesh them all”.. (act 2 scene 3. line 339). From this statement in Iago’s soliloquies, many come to a conclusion that Iago is in fact the stage villain in the play. Yes I agree with this to a certain extent, however I do believe that Iago has reasonable motives for being the villain he is. He was simply unhappy about the way his life was turning out.

Iago believed in a world of just, he believed that nothing was going his way, he did not gain lieutenancy, his rank in society was completely reliable on Othello, he was jealous of Othello and Cassio, and most of all honesty was getting him nowhere. In my essay I will prove that Iago was a man of great intelligence but not one of pure villainy. The crimes and murders that occurred could not have happened without the villain which lurked inside the other characters in the play. Being the intelligent man he is, Iago simply enflamed a jealousy that was already there and therefore cannot be solely responsible for the actions of others.

Throughout the play every character at one point referred to Iago as an honest man. Othello says in ‘ A man he is of honesty and trust ‘ before he left Desdemona in the care of Iago. Othello says , ‘ I know Iago thy honesty and love .. ” when leaving the drunken brawl. Cassio said, ‘ I never knew a Florentine more kind and honest “ after Iago had given him advice on his job. Desdemona states, ‘ O, that’s an honest fellow “ after Emilia brings up the fact that Iago is worried about Cassio’s job. Iago is seen as deceivingly honest throughout the play.

Iago must have been an honest man prior to the plot against Othello and Cassio, and this shows that he was not always a villain. Iago was probably a man of honesty his entire life, and now that he was reaching the age of 28 …” I hath looked upon the world four times seven years “ ( act 1 scene 3) , he realised that his life was not going the way he had planned. All he desired was the position as lieutenant, second in command to Othello. Hoping that this way he would receive more respect and of course a higher status.

He had proved himself to Othello, yet the position he so much desired was given Cassio ‘ one Michael Cassio “. Iago was angry and disappointed but felt that it was time for him to move up “ I know my price, I am no worth no worse a place “. The fear of remaining in a job of lower status scared Iago and therefore he felt it was time to take things into his own hands. In Iago’s confession to Roderigo he tells of how Othello had no sense and had given the position to Cassio, a man of no war experience. Othello at this instant is seen as the antagonist who stepped on the dreams of the protagonist Iago.

Therefore in order to achieve his dream of becoming lieutenant and secure his welfare, Iago comes up with a cunning and intelligent plan that is beyond complicated and reveals his true level of intelligence. Iago sets out the characters that will be involved in his devious plans, and little by little embellishes and polishes a perfect plan to execute his vision, cleverly using the characters weaknesses to bring his plan together. Although his plans are dangerous and risky Iago goes ahead anyway, as he is a man that is driven by passion to successfully fulfil his plans.

Many may say that Iago uses manipulation to get what he wants, but Iago feels his actions are justified because he did not get the promotion and besides he feels that Othello won Desdemona’s hand in marriage based on the manipulative nature of his war stories. Iago is an artist at what he does, making the characters behave in the exact manner which he perceives, without any of them noticing his actions or motives. Iago easily manages to fool Cassio, and proves that he deserved the lieutenant position not only because of his experience but because of his excellent judge of character, and his bright eyes which are able to detect deception.

Part of the reason why Iago is seen as the villainous character is because he is such an intelligent character. An evil person of such great intelligence can be very dangerous and scary. Iago knows exactly what to say to every other character that will provoke and enrage their jealousy or motive. He knows exactly how to spark the evil, jealous rage that exists in most characters. Iago did not really do anything to directly harm anyone until the end when he killed Roderigo and Emilia. Everything else was done by the evilness in other characters.

Iago was not making people jealous, but rather unleashing the jealousy that already existed. He was targeting everyone’s weakness and proving that they themselves are to blame for their actions because they themselves have killed through their own jealousy and not the jealousy that Iago has created. Evil had been present in all the characters, Iago had just brought it to life. Therefore we cannot blame Iago for being thoroughly bad and cold hearted. Othello already had a pinch of jealousy and evilness, which Iago only enflamed. Othello killed Desdemona without even confronting Cassio about the issue.

I’ll tear her to pieces. “ ( act 3 scene 3). Othello already had evil in him. In my essay I will conclude and say that Iago cannot to be solely blamed for the deaths and murders in the play. Iago did indeed commit evil acts, however he had reasonable motives for this, he simply wanted to change the way his life was turning out. We can admire him for his determination and intelligence as well as his skill in being able to see the truth within a person. He was a man of honesty and kind hearted however he felt being honest got him nowhere.

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