Othello tragedy Essay

This essay has a total of 631 words and 4 pages.

othello tragedy



Dustin Mills
English 102
Dr. Elisabeth Sachs
Othello Essay
"Honest" Iago
One of the most interesting and exotic characters in the tragic play " Othello", by
William Shakespeare, is "honest" Iago. At first Iago seems to be motiveless. However, the
motivation behind his actions lie more in Iago's quest for personal gain, as opposed to
just being evil for evil's sake. Iago's greediness can be validated by examining his
manipulation of Roderigo, Cassio, and most importantly, Othello.

Iago's main interest is the destruction of Othello. The reason being that Othello has
chosen another man, Cassio, as his second-in-command, preferring him to Iago. This
resentment, accompanied by Iago's accusations of adultery and his blatant racism, cause
Iago to despise the kindly moor. Because Iago is much too smart to immediately kill
Othello, he proceeds with the arduous process of dismantling him emotionally. Iago also
knows he must distance himself from any part of this, so he cleverly gets someone to do
his dirty work.

The first to fall victim to Iago's manipulation is half-witted Roderigo. Iago knows
Roderigo is consumed by lust for Desdemona, and would do what it takes to make her his
own. Iago tells Roderigo that the only way to win Desdemona's love is to make money to
procure gifts for her. "Put money in thy purse…"(act I scene 3 line 339). However Iago is
just taking those gifts intended for Desdemona and keeping them for himself, and making a
profit. Roderigo eventually starts to question Iago's honesty. When faced with the
accusations, Iago simply offers that the killing of Cassio will aid in his cause and
Roderigo falls for it. In doing this, Iago keeps Roderigo in the dark and continues to
profit from him monetarily. Roderigo is also used as a device in both Cassio and Othello's
downfall. Iago's actions demonstrate his monetary and power based motivations,
invalidating the claim that Iago is evil for evil's sake.

Cassio like Roderigo follows Iago blindly, thinking the whole time that Iago is trying to
aid him, when in fact Iago, motivated by his lust for power, is attempting to remove
Cassio of his position as lieutenant. With Roderigo's help Iago causes Cassio to forfeit
his position as Othello's second-in-command. Cassio is also used to bring out the monster
inside of Othello. In Iago's exploitation of Cassio, it is clear to see that, although
evil in his deeds, Iago is strictly motivated by his hunger for power.

As mentioned earlier, Iago's main intention lies in the degradation of Othello. Iago feels
that he was best suited to hold the position of lieutenant, as opposed to Michael Cassio.
From this Iago manufactures accusations of adultery, claiming that Othello has slept with
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