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Essays On Iagos Motives In Shakespeares Othello

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The Complex Character of Iago of Othello

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…show more content…

They are not quite of the same social status or class and Iago resents that, for he knows that the promotion was not given to him in the first place because of this issue. A frustrated Iago decides to create havoc with everyone that is concerned.

Shakespeare portrays Othello as the general without faults, perfect. Yet slowly he reveals the weaknesses of Othello’s love for Desdemona. For this love he will forsake anything. Iago is quick to focus upon this and starts working towards destroying Othello through his only percieved shortcoming.

Iago uses a gamut of devious methods to achieve his means. His use of Roderigo is a masterly move. From being "a Venetian gentleman," Roderigo becomes Iago’s gull. In the very first scene he gets him to confront a sleepy Brabantio and give him the news of his daughters escapades with the Moor.

At the end of the court scene in the first act, Iago and Roderigo are left alone with the poor doting lover in great despair. Roderigo takes a decision to drown himself. Iago easily convinces him out of it by pointing out Othello’s shortcomings. Says he,

"She must change for youth: when she is sated with his body,

she will find the errors of his choice."

This satisfies Roderigo and Iago’s hate starts taking definite shape:

"I hate the moor,

And it is thought abroad, that ‘twixt my

Essay on The Motives of a Dishonest Man: Iago in Othello

1920 Words8 Pages

One of the most outrageous literary vilians of all time is William Shakespeare’s Iago. Iago has been described with many words; villian, antagonist, cruel, selfish, malignant, chaotic, etc. What motivation could one have that would posses them to act in ways to be labeled as such? Are there even any motives present, or is it just the nature of the character that gives Iago his naturaly naughty personality.
Many people see the main motive of Iago’s chaotic nature as the simple fact that he can do it, so he does. This statement is false. The abilities that Iago possesses may incline him to do what he does, however are they his sole purpose? The answer is absolutely not. Carrying a gun around may leave you more inclined to use it, however…show more content…

Iago could possibly be just as Coleridge said, motiveless, and give an excuse for his motives so he will not appear as cruel. As many evil acts as Iago initiates, it may seem hard to believe that he would lie to the audience who already knows his evil plan, only to make himself seem better. However taking a different approach, as a compulsive liar why wouldn’t Iago lie to the audience? In fact, in Act I lines 57-65, Iago states “I am not what I am.” This statement gives Coleridge an even stronger stand in that now Iago has given the audience a personal testimony.
Yet, no matter how strong Coleridge’s view may seem, it is completely incorrect, the motive is there it just may seem to be hard to see. One thing that can be concluded about Iago is that he is not an honest man, and that Othello has mislabeled him drastically. Iago’s character through a strategic and well planned manipulation process eceive many of the other characters. He uses carefully thought out words and actions to manipulate others to do things in a way that benefits himself, while also pushing Othello, Desdemona, Roderigo, Emilia, and Cassio to their tragic death. Not only is he betraying his commander he is also using his wife, lying to his friend, and getting back at his enemy! Iago’s character has learned to use a high intensity of deception. Iago pretends to be this sweet innocent man, while in reality the audience knows his

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