Iago Character Analysis

Published: 2021-06-30 18:25:05
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Category: Literature

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One cannot have a successful story without a villain. A villain helps to create conflict and a plot between characters, this is what builds a successful story. In the play Othello by William Shakespeare, Iago is the ultimate villain. He will do whatever it takes to ruin Othello’s life. Without Iago, Othello would not be the tragedy it is today, but just an empty romance without any conflict. Some may believe that Iago is a victim because he was blinded by his emotions to think with his conscience. Iago was overlooked for the job as lieutenant and could of done just as good a job as Othello or better if he was given the chance.
Iago is a villain because he tries to ruin Othello’s life in order to gain his power and control. In the play Othello, villains often oppose expressing their true emotions to the people surrounding them because they believe it to be a sign of weakness this causes Iago to go to the extreme to ruin Othello’s life. Iago has shown that he is indeed the ultimate villain because he combined his knowledge of a human’s emotional reactions (Othello’s) to certain situations, with his villainous nature to create a society in which he basically controlled the other characters’ actions.
Iago’s villainous actions come from his deep resentment for Othello. Iago keeps his deep hatred for Othello so bottled up that it becomes an obsession and turns it into the ultimate revenge unto Othello. Iago states it loud and clear for the audience to see as he foreshadows his actions later in the play: “But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve/ For daws to peck at. I am not what I am” (I. i. 62-63). The feelings from Iago’s “heart” will be those of jealousy and hatred because these characteristics are not found in a hero nor a victim but only in a villain.
As Iago’s feelings increase he comes up with a plan to destroy Othello, “Make the Moor thank me, love me, and reward me/ For making him egregiously an ass… ” (II. i. 305-306). Iago knows that if he can obtain Othello’s trust then he will be able to hurt and destroy him in any way necessary. Tricking someone into believing that they are being honest and true is one of the most terrible acts possible for it is messing with the persons trust and emotions. Since Iago has the trust of Othello he is ultimately able to control him.
This will be Othello’s biggest weakness and Iago’s biggest strength: “The Moor is of a free and open nature,/ That thinks men honest that but seem to be so,/ And will as tenderly be led by the nose/ As asses are. ” (I. iii. 93-96). Iago feeds Othello his lies in order to make him doubt not only himself, but Desdemona as well. Iago does these actions freely and willingly which makes him a villain. The villain within Iago takes over; it is then what drives his hatred for Othello. The villainous character of Iago is an extremely important concept for the play Othello, but within this villain is a master mind.
Iago is no simple minded character, he is clever and cunning. He uses both of these characteristics to hatch his plan of destroying Othello: “And by how much she strives to do him good, she shall undo her credit with the moor. So will I turn her virtue into pitch, and out of her own goodness make the net that shall enmesh them all” (II. iii. 336). Iago is so jealous of Othello that he plans to take everything from him. Iago plans to twist Othello’s beliefs into believing that Desdemona is cheating on him.
As one can see, Iago is more than happy with not only ruining Othello’s life but ruining Desdemona’s as well, killing two birds with one stone! (Literally!! ) “The Moor – howbe’t that I endure him not- Is of a constant, loving noble nature, And I dare that he’ll prove to Desdemona a most dear husband. ” (Iago, Act 2 scene 1, Line 287-290). Iago has no limits he’ll hurt Desdemona, Othello, Cassio, Brabantio, Roderigo, all of these characters may not have been the cause of Iago’s villainous nature, but they interacted with Iago enough to fall victim to him.
Iago is a true villain from his head to his toes, he acts in such a way that his actions could not be characterized as anything else. In the play “Othello”, Iago comes forth as an apparently evil, vicious, and intelligent person who is creating havoc for reasons of seemingly pure villainy. However after examining the text, it can be stated that Iago is not a pure evil character, but was once honest and kind and still has honesty within him. Iago could also be characterized as a victim; he could not have held up a reputation for honesty his entire life if he was not truly honest at one time or another.
By the time this play took place Iago had already changed is way of life from being honest to being evil because honesty was getting him nowhere: he did not get promoted to lieutenant, his status was completely reliable on Othello, and he was jealous of Othello and Cassio who were leading a better life than he. Iago is put through a lot and knows that he is worth more than he was given: “Off-capped to him, and by the faith of man, I know my price, I am worth no worse a place” (I. i. 10-11). But, Iago is also responsible for all the murders and crimes that occurred because the other characters in the play also have an evil lurking inside.
The murders in the play would not have occurred if there was not a villainous side to every character in the play and therefore Iago cannot be blamed for all these murders and crimes but; he was the person that brought out the evil of others which makes him a villain because he provokes not only evil from himself but also from others. The evidence against Iago for being a villain is too overwhelming to even consider him being a victim. When villains do not know what to do, they look to the great and powerful Iago for guidance.
Iago uses his “people” skills to gain Othello’s trust. Once he has Othello’s trust, Othello becomes a pawn in Iago’s chess game. Iago is able to mold Othello’s beliefs and feelings into what he wants. Iago chooses to keep his true feelings about Othello bottled up; because of this, Iago’s fire just keeps on burning brighter inside of him. Iago has shown that he is the ultimate villain because he uses his persuasion and knowledge to control human emotions, because of this Iago can do anything to Othello which is why he is the ultimate villain.

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