Explore How Shakespeare Portrays Othello and Iago as Villains in the Two Plays

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Shakespeare’s plays were written in the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods, where the villains brought entertainment value to the plays by their plotting. A villain is someone who is an enemy and plays a prominent part in the play. Often in Shakespeare’s plays, the villains are normally malcontent. A Malcontent is a type of person/character which is prominent in Elizabethan dramas, which is rebellious and wants to cause other people distress. Some great examples of Shakespeare’s villains are Richard III and Tamora. Shakespeare uses Elizabethan types of Villain in his plays Othello and Much Ado about Nothing and J.A. Cudden described them ‘devilish’ and an ‘evil machinator or plotter’. Throughout Shakespeare’s plays Villains are in general antagonistic; they are against the good, innocent people in the play. This normally leads to a grave misfortune of others and often death. I am going to explore how Shakespeare portrays Villains through two well known villains called Iago from the tragedy Othello and Don John from the comedy Much Ado about Nothing. These villains are particularly excellent because they are not ‘Blood-thirsty’; they are devious and deceitful and operate with ‘sly treachery’. These Malcontents play on the emotions of other characters until they stop thinking in a rational way.​Throughout both plays, Iago and Don John are Machiavellian as they effectively destroy the minds of people. Othello is a tragedy and throughout the whole play and thus Desdemona, Emilia, and Othello were killed. Although Much Ado about Nothing is a comedy it verges onto a tragedy towards the end, as Charles Gildon stated ‘Some of the incidents and discourses are more in a tragic strain...the accusation of Hero is too shocking for either tragedy or comedy’; Iago and Don John are more similar than different but there are some obvious variations that made one better than the other. Of course, they were Iago was in a tragedy and Don John was in a comedy, so there were many effects that made them prominent villains in Shakespearian plays. In the tragedy Othello, Iago has a prominent part in the play and appears in a lot of the major scenes throughout the play, whereas, Don John in Much Ado about Nothing doesn’t appear a lot in the play. Both Don Jon and Iago live in a patriarchal time, so they used this to bring down their enemies. Women at that time were easy to manipulate on and they both try and make people think that they are being unfaithful. Iago never showed Othello physical proof that Desdemona was having an affair but he just implanted idea into Othello’s head making him jealous. On the other hand, Don John showed what appeared to Hero with someone else. Although this is clever, his plan did not work in the end. The differentiation between the two villains was that Iago kept on going with his plan until he got what he wanted, and when Don Johns planned failed, he ran away. However, at end the both rogues got caught and detained. First Impressions are important in plays, whatever kind, because it affects our view of that particular character throughout the rest of the play. It’s a lasting impact. In Act 1 Scene 1 of Othello we see Iago and Rodergio having an argument. This does not create an excellent opening impression of Iago, and we see him as a very pessimistic and livid man. This is because Othello promoted Michael Cassio not him. Iago used this to get revenge on Othello later on in the play. Even at the beginning of the play we see evidence of racism, and this carries on throughout the play. Iago describes Othello as ‘the Moor’ ‘thick lips’ ‘the devil’ this explores Iago’s patronising, racist personality. Iago’s use for these words is particularly striking because it emphasises his hatred for him. In Elizabethan times, black people were portrayed as...
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