Lago’s character and how he achieved his goals in the Othello’s play by Shakespeare
Iago is the key villain in ‘Othello’, the play by William Shakespeare. His envy and jealousy makes him rescind the life of his wife’s boss and the boss himself, Othello. Most often, people work to achieve goals which at times proves difficult watching others, who are mostly less accomplished achieve without much work. Such situations lead to envy and jealousy on the side of the more accomplished individuals. In the play, Iago is a soldier hoping to be promoted as a lieutenant but instead, Cassio, a less experienced soldier is promoted triggering anger in Iago making him desire to destroy his boss Othello. As such, the key focus of this paper is to provide an analysis of Iago’s character and how it contributes to him achieving his goals.
Iago makes it clear that the main reason for his desire to destroy Othello is the promotion of Cassio instead of him. However, he also has other motives for hating Othello throughout the play. For one, he stipulates the existence of an affair between Othello and his wife Emilia. In (1.3.369-370), he exclaims, ‘it is thought.. twixt my sheets, he has done my office’. He also mentions a desire for Desdemona since he wants to revenge on Othello, he states, ‘wife for wife’ (2.2.266). Finally, it becomes apparent that he has no justified reason to hurt Othello making his character appear as a vice figure, a character personifying immoral behavior by putting others into temptation (Arenas, 2010).
He is a highly manipulative antagonist and successfully develops a plan with his workmate, Roderigo, to destroy their boss Othello, Cassio, and Desdemona. He is so confident in his manipulation abilities and successfully manipulates Roderigo into plotting his plan against Othello. While speaking to Roderigo, he makes clear his skillfulness, he says, ‘I am not what I am’ (1.1.65). He evidently seems to be enjoying bringing the lives of others to ruins. He also takes advantage of Roderigo’s weakness, love and money, using it to lure him into the plot of eliminating Cassio from the position of a lieutenant. In (I.2.360), he tells Roderigo, ‘put money in thy purse’.
He utilizes his intimate knowledge of people and well planned techniques to hurt them. As he grows closer to Othello in his plot to kill him, he manages to convince him that his wife is cheating on him with the newly promoted lieutenant, Cassio. He takes advantage of his knowledge on Othello’s insecurities and utilizes this against him. After successfully planting the seed of doubt in Othello, he moves on to putting Desdemona’s handkerchief under Cassio’s possession as a confirmation of the affair. As a result, Othello rockets out of control and he triumphs (Arenas, 2010).
Iago is also the most deceptive character in the play. To the other characters, he is trustworthy and honest. To Othello, he is ‘a man of honesty and trust’ (1.1.1521). Unknown to them is his hidden evil nature. All through the play, he turns all his friends against each other including those who trusted him most. He uses lies and deception viciously and cruelly to deceive the one after the other, finally embodying them all in a jealous rage (Forsyth, 2009). He achieves this by diving deep into their deepest concerns and fears utilizing them to ‘make the net that … enmesh them’ (2.2.1542). His deceptive nature also helps him generate several varied reasons justifying his plots and luring people like Roderigo in them.
Another key trait of Iago is his evil and amoral nature. Despite lying constantly to his friends like Roderigo, he steals from him without any feeling of guilt. He hoards the money Roderigo gives him to win over Desdemona for him. When Roderigo discovers, Iago easily sways his mind with another fanciful plot of killing Cassio as the way to winning Desdemona’s heart and he agrees to kill Cassio. Also, when Othello’s wife Emilia discovers his plot, he perceives him as an obstacle to his success and kills her. To him, she is a stumbling block and no longer serves any purpose. His merciless killing of Emilia qualifies him as a highly amoral and evil character. Else, his character would more fictional and hard to believe (Forsyth, 2009).
In conclusion, Iago’s character is so layer such that one can easily delve deeper into his personality and nuances, however, his key role in plot development of the play is highly significant. He is also a complicated character whose true ambitions are shrouded in masks of deviance and deception that help make his fabricated visage. The atrocious crimes he sets to commit are unfathomable, yet, without his queer character in the play, it would be more of a romantic drama and less fascinating than it is (Forsyth, 2009). In other words, Iago is a villain character that the audience loves to hate, making the play while breaking the characters in it. Also, by using techniques portraying Iago’s evil personality, Shakespeare is able to make up a protagonist that has for centuries fascinated audiences.
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