Human Evil in Othello

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What holds us back from being evil? What power hinders us from murdering, stealing, and hurting others? Most would say there is the sense of guilt and possible punishment, but regardless, they say that they still would never commit these offenses even with the repercussions not present. This is not true, we overestimate our actual compassion and to be evil is just a matter of being chastised; and with a lack of punishment, we would all be much more evil than we imagine. In Shakespeare's Othello, we tend to empathize with Othello, the honest Moor, in spite of being much more similar to Iago. We would like to imagine that Othello's actions are human nature, but deep down we understand Iago's behavior. Iago's motivations for monetary gain through the coercion of Roderigo make him infinitely more human than Othello. Perhaps we unconsciously recognize the most with Iago's persistence to claim revenge on Othello. Lastly, Iago is motivated to dispose of Cassio and claim his position of power. Despite Shakespeare's manipulation of our feelings towards Iago, he is the one we should be identifying with, for Iago is more like us than any other character in the play.

At first it is hard to see the motivation behind Iago's evil plans, but shortly later we discover his involvement with Roderigo, a foolish gentlemen with a lust for Desdemona. Iago is quick to capitalize on Roderigo's emotions and intends to procure a financial windfall. Iago goads Roderigo into believing that he can only win Desdemona's love by giving him money, "Put money in thy purse", so that he can attain gifts for her (Shakespeare 1.3. 339). Iago takes the money for the gifts and keeps it to make a profit. Once Roderigo begins to question Iago's honesty, Iago just thinks of more ways to capitalize on other people's weaknesses and offers the idea that killing Cassio will aid Roderigo's cause, thus Iago is making more money and making it easier to take advantage of his next victim, Cassio. It is clear that...
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