Paying Close Attention to Iago’s Language in Ii.Iii.303-328 and Iii.Iii.92-259, Explain Why Many Readers/Audiences, Actors and Directors Have Found His Character so Fascinating...

Topics: Othello, Iago, William Shakespeare Pages: 6 (2680 words) Published: October 10, 2009
The Shakespeare tragedy Othello was written and set during the early 17th century in Venice rule. The play is set in Cyprus and Venice. In the play Othello, Iago attempts to destroy the marriage of Othello and Desdemona. Iago is a compelling sophisticated villain, who revels in his own ability to dissemble. At first glance Iago is pure evil. He is perhaps the most interesting and deceiving character in the tragic play Othello. During the play Iago uses carefully thought out words and actions which enable him to manipulate others and do things in a way which benefits him and allows him to move closer to his goals. He is a villain who is adept to quick-witted improvisation. Iago's pride is laced with sly vindictiveness; also he is egotistical and independent, convincingly able to adapt his tone and style to any situation. Of all the characters presented in Shakespeare's literature the most sinister one is without a doubt Iago. He is a ruthless sociopath. No other character can even come close to his evil. Most of the antagonists present in Shakespeare's plays have valid reasons for the troubles they cause. Iago doesn't for the most part he just has a burning hatred for the world, especially Othello. This is what makes Othello so fascinating for many audiences. The classic villain, one that we simply hate and really, really want to see lose, is a surprisingly rare bird. Two examples are: Marlo Stanfield in The Wire chillingly portrayed by Jamie Hector and Iago in Othello, Othello’s ensign. These are men we cannot admire, even as we recognise their power, intelligence and success; they remain normal enough that we cannot suspend the usual laws of morality - in fact, their horribleness demands that we apply those laws as they violate them left and right. We do not feel sorry for them: they outrage us. We just want to see them go down. The main distinction, I would say, is this: these are men who do not love. They only want. At first glance Iago's character seems to be pure evil. However, such a villain would distract from the impact of the play and would be trite. Shakespeare, to add depth to his villain, makes him amoral as opposed to the typical immoral villain. Iago's entire scheme begins when the "ignorant, ill-suited" Cassio is given the position he desired. Iago is consumed with envy and plots to steal the position he feels he most justly deserves. Iago deceives and kills to gain that position. Stringer Bell in The Wire, for example, is an intimidating and ruthless figure, but it's hard not to feel some sympathy for him: his ambition to build a financial empire that will lift him out of the world he was born in, his genuine interest and enjoyment in the workings of the business world and his entertaining attempts to impose a board-meeting style on his volatile corner boys are all rather appealing. Stringer loves a few people - not many, but maybe one or two, even though he's prepared to put his own interest ahead of them - but he also loves business, and that gives us a point of identification: most of us love something. Marlo, on the other hand, is a destroyer who tears down what Stringer has built, but he doesn't seem to have anything in mind while doing this except total dominance. He keeps homing pigeons, but he doesn't seem especially fond of them; he has trusted lieutenants, but he doesn't seem fond of them either: he seems to keep them around more because they're dependable than because he cares for them. When Stringer plans, we can see he has a vision of a better future in mind; Marlo's plans are all about destroying his rivals just for the sake of being on top. An older man warns him that the prisons and graveyards are 'full of boys who wore the crown', to which Marlo simply replies that the point is, 'they wore it.' It's the crown for its own sake that he wants. Not what the crown can get him, be it a better life, the admiration of those around him, or anything warming, but just the crown, so he can be king....
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