Arguably, Shakespeare’s Othello and Iago are similar characters, as both play a huge role in the plot, end up in the same place, neither really gain anything, and but both lose their whole lives. The difference between the two is Othello had no malignant intent and accidently ruined his life, whereas Iago’s actions were deliberately virulent. Additionally, while people view Othello as imprudent and too rash, many see Iago’s puppetry of the different characters of his small society in order to get back at his master as shrewd and well executed until the end, where something minute went incorrectly leading to his painful demise. However, there is evidence that Iago isn’t all that clever as people see him, and that if Othello and Iago switched roles but not minds, Othello would have carried out a similar act. Many readers incorrectly put Othello below the intellectual level of Iago, but Iago’s malicious plans had far too many holes to succeed, and his chances of a perfect outcome were slim from the beginning.
Iago’s primary shortcoming is the amount of loose ends he had, and who they were. When it comes to a full scale revenge plot with inevitable murder, one loose end is one too many loose ends, and Iago had two: Roderigo and Emilia. This begins in the first scene where he summarily tells Roderigo of his plans for revenge on Othello, saying:
Were I the Moor I would not be Iago.
In following him I follow but myself;
Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,
But seeming so for my peculiar end.
For when my outward action doth demonstrate
The native act and figure of my heart
In compliment extern, ’tis not long after
But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
For daws to peck at. I am not what I am. (I.i.57–65)
In context, this quote is Iago explaining to Roderigo that he follows Othello because he wants revenge, and sees a situation that can be manipulated, not because of “love and duty.” Not only does he make a mistake by telling someone of his...
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