Iago’s Selfish Desires In Shakespeare’s Othello

May 19, 2022 by Essay Writer

Many characters in the play Othello, reveal many different characteristics and qualities. Of these characters is Iago. Due to his jealousy, he is vengeful as he lays out selfish desires which lead to tragedy. He also betrays his friends and lies to them. The end of the play is tragic due to the lack of his good morals and standards.

The overall goal and desires in the play caused turmoil.The cause of the deaths at the end of the story was because of the revenge that Iago desired. Iago was seeking out revenge on Othello because he chose Cassio to be the lieutenant over him. He thought that he should have been chosen and because of this, he became angry. There was only one way that he thought he could solve his problem. He would get back at Othello for taking what he desired most. His character was very selfish in thinking that everything should revolve around him. Because he had evil desires and an overall foolish goal, he caused the most harm ever imagined.

Throughout this play many different characteristics are shown, both good and bad. In Iago’s case, he is jealous. Because of his jealousy, he hurt many people. There is always someone in our lives whom we know is two faced. In this case, Iago is that person. He acts as a person’s friend and then goes behind their back. An example of this would be when he lied to Roderigo about him being able to win over Desdemona. Iago said that if he went off to make more money that Desdemona would eventually forget about Othello and would be with Roderigo instead. After Roderigo returns from trying to “put money in his purse” to win over Desdemona, he says to Iago “I’m like a dog that runs after the pack of hounds-not lie one of the dogs hot on the trail, but only as one that barks a lot. My money is almost gone, I have been horribly beaten, and I think that all I will have gained for my pains is considerable experience. And so, with no money at all and only a little more sense, I will return to Venice.” In this scene Roderigo returns and realizes that the advice Iago gave him was not helping him. Iago was pretending to help his so-called friend but was only using him to get what he wanted; Revenge. Lying to achieve his wants and selfish needs was deemed far more important than maintaining a strong and healthy relationship with his peers even if it meant in the end they would die.

One’s actions can reveal the heart of the character. For Iago, this meant that he would do whatever it took to get his way. His actions were not deemed worthy and destroyed so many relationships. Iago used and lied to many people. In return for his actions, no one could trust each other. Towards the end of the play, everyone finally realizes that he has been lying to them and that his actions have caused so much more damage than they could have ever imagined. Iago tells Othello that Cassio has Desdemona’s handkerchief because they were sleeping together. “By heaven, I would most gladly have forgotten it. Thou saidst (O, it comes o’er my memory, As doth the raven o’er the infectious house, Boding to all) he had my handkerchief.” Because of the lies that Iago spread, he was able to manipulate Othello into killing his beloved wife Desdemona. Amelia (Iago’s wife) realizes what her husband was trying to do, and tells the truth for the first time in a great while. After Othello realizes what Iago has convinced him to do, he is greatly sorrowed and stabs himself. Because of Iago’s actions, he should have been killed. He caused so much heartache and turmoil. This goes to show that the actions of Iago truly reveal the evil intentions within his heart.

Iago’s intentions ruined people’s lives. He destroyed relationships and was able to get away unharmed. His lying character had selfish desires and showed hatred towards everyone around him. Because of his actions, he caused the tragic ending in the play Othello.


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