Exploring Iago's (Lack of) Motives for His Evil Deeds in Othello

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Iago’s cunning and ingenuity, although helpful in his course of destruction, in the end do not disguise the fact that he is a malevolent manipulator who, throughout the play, fails to conceive a legitimate motive for his malicious actions. Iago is a villain. He is the embodiment of evil, hatred and spite, a vicious sociopath with no moral compunction, and therefore while he does initially provide a reason for his wicked intentions, his true motive is only the promising destruction of purity and goodness in Othello. However, the means by which he obtains his evil intent is no easy feat. Iago is an incredibly intelligent, cunning scoundrel, who throughout the play uses his ability to think quickly to clutch on every opportunity that will further his cause. Iago uses Othello’s favouring of Cassio over him for the position of lieutenant as his first big motivation to make trouble in Othello’s life. He also suspects Othello of sleeping with his wife, Emilia, and uses his poisonous jealousy to spur on his vengeful doings. However, it is notable that Iago only ever speaks of his ‘Cassio reason’ in his conversations with Roderigo, his “companion”; he is merely manipulating Roderigo for his money and would therefore have no inclination to tell him the truth as one would to one’s true friends, whereas in his soliloquies- the only time he does speak the complete truth and show his true nature, he mentions nothing of Cassio’s preferment. He does talk about his jealousy and need for revenge on Othello’s cuckolding him with Emilia (obviously a complete sociopathic fantasy), but this is just a face for his true envy and fundamental hatred of Othello’s good qualities. Iago hates everything in the world that is proper, reasoned and well ordered; everything that has a ‘daily beauty’. Othello has the very qualities Iago lacks and must therefore destroy. Iago is therefore not overly concerned with the destruction of people, but the...
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