Othello - Iago

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Iago demands the audience's complicity we cannot help being fascinated by him

In Shakespeare's Othello, the character of Iago is constructed to demand the audience's complicity despite the corrupt nature of his actions. an Elizabethan audience may have responded in a negative fashion to Iago's manipulative behaviour but in contrast with this, the post Freudian audience would be fascinated by the psychological aspect of his character.

Iago is undoubtedly the most psychologically intriguing character carefully presented by Shakespeare through his exploitation of the other characters in order to compliment his master plan. In the opening of Othello, Iago convinces Roderigo to join him in plotting against Othello by using Roderigo's love for Desdemona to provoke ill feelings towards Othello. However, he reveals his own motivation, "I follow him to serve my turn upon him' as a result of Othello's decision of promoting Cassio over Iago. Despite admitting his own motives to Roderigo, he promises Roderigo that in helping him, it will gain him the hand of Desdemona. Of course, this is merely a technique Iago uses to gain Roderigo's service as he successfully exploits Roderigo's emotional insecurities. The audience become aware that Desdemona is a chaste, pure "jewel" that would never betray Othello or pursue Roderigo, heightening Iago's empty promise to Roderigo. As the play progresses, Roderigo becomes doubtful of Iago but in response to this, Iago gives Roderigo false hope as well as urging him to "put money in thy purse" whereby Iago doesn't just exploit him emotionally but financially too. The materialistic side of Iago is not only highlighted here but also supports his envy for Cassio and his new position of wealth. The modern audience cannot help being fascinated by Iago because he exploits Roderigo emotionally for the hopes of his own materialistic gains. He plots against Othello as a result of the lack of self satisfaction not only socially but...
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