In William Shakespeare’s play Othello, Iago is a soldier with hopes of being promoted to lieutenant. He becomes angry and vengeful when he is passed over for promotion. A less experienced soldier, Cassio, is promoted to lieutenant instead of Iago. This action triggers anger in Iago, and he takes out his anger on his boss Othello. Iago desires to destroy Othello’s life and marriage even if others are harmed in the process. Iago explains that he wants to destroy Othello because he has been passed over for promotion to lieutenant; however, he offers other motives for his hatred of Othello throughout the course of the play. He mentions he believes Othello is having an affair with his wife, Emilia. He states, ‘it is thought abroad that ‘twixt my sheets, he has done my office’. The villain Iago from “Othello” is a central character, and understanding him is key to understanding Shakespeare’s entire play. His is the longest part with 1,070 lines. Iago’s character is consumed with hatred and envy. He is jealous of Cassio for obtaining the position of Lieutenant over him, jealous of Othello–believing that he has bedded his wife–and jealous of Othello’s position, despite his race. You can get essay editing service at myassignmenthelp.com.
Shakespeare presents Iago as a collection of unsolvable puzzles. Each thing Iago says is cause for worry. He claims a reputation for honesty and plain speaking, yet he invents elaborate lies in order to exploit and manipulate other people. He treats others as fools and has no time for tender emotion, yet he is a married man and presumably once loved his wife. He cares for no one, yet he devotes his whole life to revenge rather than walk away in disdain. He believes in cheating and lying for gain, yet Shakespeare placed some of the most beautiful words in Iago’s mouth.
Iago has a reputation for honesty, for reliability and direct speaking. Othello and others in the play constantly refer to him as “honest Iago.” He has risen through the ranks in the army by merit and achievement, and Othello, whose military judgment is excellent, has taken him as ancient (captain) because of his qualities. In Iago, Shakespeare shows us a character who acts against his reputation. Possibly Iago was always a villain and confidence trickster who set up a false reputation for honesty, but how can one set up a reputation for honesty except by being consistently honest over a long period of time? Alternatively he might be a man who used to be honest in the past, but has decided to abandon this virtue.
Shakespeare has built the character of Iago from an idea already existing in the theatrical culture of his time: the Devil in religious morality plays, which developed into the villain in Elizabethan drama and tragedy. Iago says (I.1, 65) “I am not what I am,” which can be interpreted as “I am not what I seem.” But it is also reminiscent of a quotation from the Bible which Shakespeare would have known: In Exodus, God gives his laws to Moses on Mt. Sinai, and Moses asks God his name. God replies: “I am that I am” (Exodus,iii,14). If “I am that I am” stands for God, then Iago’s self-description, “I am not what I am” is the direct opposite. Iago is the opposite of God, that is, he is the Devil. Iago in this play, has the qualities of the Devil in medieval and Renaissance morality plays: He is a liar, he makes promises he has no intention of keeping, he tells fancy stories in order to trap people and lead them to their destruction, and he sees other’s greatest vulnerabilities and uses these to destroy them. Iago does all this not for any good reason, but for love of evil. Avail essay help service.
Iago is surrounded with bitter irony: he is not as he seems, his good is bad for others, people repeatedly rely on him, and he betrays them. He likes to have others unwittingly working to serve his purposes. But for all this, as his plot against Othello starts moving and gathering momentum, he loses control of it and must take real risks to prevent it from crashing. Iago is a man with an obsession for control and power over others who has let this obsession take over his whole life. Necessity forces his hand, and, in order to destroy Othello, he must also destroy Roderigo, Emilia, Desdemona, and ultimately himself. The one man who survived Iago’s attempt to kill him, Cassio, is the only major character left standing at the end of the play.
Iago has very few redeeming qualities. He has the ability to charm and convince people of his loyalty and honesty– “Honest Iago,” according to Othello–but the audience is immediately introduced to his vitriol and desire for revenge, despite his lack of proved reason. Iago represents evil and cruelty for its own sake. He is deeply unpleasant, and this is revealed to the audience in no uncertain terms in his numerous asides. He even acts as an advocate for Othello’s, telling the audience that he is noble. Iago’s opinion and treatment of women in the play also contribute to the audience’s perception of him as cruel and unpleasant. Iago treats his wife Emilia in a very derogatory way. This could be due to his belief that she has had an affair, but his character is so consistently unpleasant that the audience does not assign his malignancy to her behaviour. An audience may even collude in Emilia’s belief that even if she did cheat, Iago deserved it. Who can write my essay for me?
Iago double crosses all the characters who consider him a friend. Most shockingly, perhaps, he kills Roderigo, a character with whom he has conspired and been mostly honest throughout the play. He uses Roderigo to perform his dirty work, and without him would have been unable to discredit Cassio in the first place. However, Roderigo seems to know Iago best. Perhaps having guessed that he may be double-crossed, he writes letters which he keeps on his person that eventually discredit Iago and his motives completely. Iago is unrepentant in his communication with the audience.