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Is Iago Evil
"I am not what I am." What is Iago? -- as distinct from what he pretends to be -- and what are his motives?
In Shakespeare\'s, Othello, the reader is presented the classic
battle between the deceitful forces of evil and the innocence of good.
It are these forces of evil that ultimately lead to the breakdown of
Othello, a noble venetian moor, well-known by the people of Venice as
a honourable soldier and a worthy leader. Othello\'s breakdown results
in the muder of his wife Desdemona. Desdemona is representative of
the good in nature. Good can be defined as forgiving, honest,
innocent and unsuspecting. The evil contained within Othello is by no
means magical or mythical yet is represented by the character Iago.
Iago is cunning, untrustworthy, selfish, and plotting. He uses these
traits to his advantage by slowly planning his own triumph while
watching the demise of others. It is this that is Iago\'s motivation.
The ultimate defeat of good by the wrath of evil. Not only is it in
his own nature of evil that he suceeds but also in the weaknesses of
the other characters. Iago uses the weaknesses of Othello,
specifically jealousy and his devotion to things as they seem, to
conquer his opposite in Desdemona. From the start of the play, Iago\'s
scheming ability is shown when he convinces Roderigo to tell about
Othello and Desdemonda\'s elopement to Desdemona\'s father, Brabantio.
Confidentally Iago continues his plot successfully, making fools of
others, and himself being rewarded. Except Roderigo, no one is aware
of Iago\'s plans. This is because Iago pretends to be an honest man
loyal to his superiors. The fact that Othello himself views Iago as
trustworthy and honest gives the evil within Iago a perfect
unsuspecting victim for his schemes. The opportunity to get to
Desdemona through Othello is one temptation that Iago cannot refuse.
He creates the impression that Desdemona is having an affair with
Cassio in order to stir the jealousy within Othello. It is this
jealousy and the ignorance of Othello that lead to the downfall of
Desdemona; the one truely good natured character in the play.
As the play opens we are immediately introduced to the
hostility of Iago against Othello. Iago has been appointed the
position of servant to Othello instead of the more prestigous position
of lieutenant. Michael Cassio has been appointed this position. Iago
feels betrayed because he considers him self more qualified than
Cassio to serve as lieutenant. Iago then foreshadows his plans for
Othello to Roderigo, "O, sir, content you. / I follow him to serve my
turn upon him (Act I, Scene I)". Iago already realizes that Othello
thinks about him as an honest man. Roderigo is used by Iago as an
apprentence and someone to do his "dirty" work. Roderigo is naively
unsuspecting. As the play shifts from Venice to Cyprus there is an
interesting contrast. Venice, a respectful and honourable town is
overshadowed by the war torn villages of Cyprus. It could be said
that Venice represents good or specfically Desdemona and that Cyprus
represents evil in Iago. Desdemona has been taken from her
peacefullness and brought onto the grounds of evil. Iago commits his
largest acts of deceit in Cyprus, fittingly considering the
atmosphere. Ironically, the venetians feel the Turks are their only
enemy while in fact Iago is in hindsight the one man who destroys
their stable state. Act II Scene III shows Iago\'s willing ability to
manipulate characters in the play. Iago convinces Montano to inform
Othello of Cassio\'s weakness for alchohol hoping this would rouse
disatisfaction by Othello. Iago when forced to tell the truth against
another character does so very suspiciously. He pretends not to
offend Cassio when telling Othello of the fight Cassio was involved
in, but Iago secretly wants the worst to become of Cassio\'s situation
without seeming responsible. Cassio is relieved of his duty as
lieutenant. With Cassio no longer in the position of lieutenant, this
gives Iago the opportunity to more effectively interact with and
manipulate Othello. By controlling Othello, Iago would essentially
To reach Desdemona directly is unforseeable for Iago
considering that Othello is superior to him. It is for this reason
that Iago decides to exploit Othello.
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Othello, Iago, Michael Cassio, Emilia, Roderigo, Brabantio, Desdemona, Otello, Irony, Bianca
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