Iago is a "moral pyromaniac." Harold C. Goddard writes that Iago consciously and unconsciously seeks to destroy the lives of others, especially others with high moral standards (Goddard 76). However, Iago is more than just a "moral pyromaniac," he is a moral pyromaniac whose fire is fueled by pure hatred. He is a hungry powermonger whose appetite for destruction can only be satisfied after he has chewed up and spat out the lives of others. Iago lusts for power, but his sense of power is attained by manipulating and annihilating others in a cruel and unusual way. Iago prepares and ignites his victims and then watches, with an excitable evil in his eye, as his human pyres go up in flames.
Iago undeniably has an unquenchable thirst for power and domination. Critics such as M. R. Ridley believe that the ability to hurt is the most convincing display of one's power (Ridley lxi). Iago has a deep, inbred desire to cause and view intolerable suffering. The power of Iago is exercised when he prepares and then implements an evil plan designed to inflict man with the most extreme amounts of anguish possible. Iago controls the play, he brilliantly determines how each character shall act and react. He is a pressing advocate of evil, a pernicious escort, steering good people toward their own vulgar destruction.
Iago must first make careful preparations in order to make certain his fire of human destruction will burn with fury and rage. He douses his victims with a false sense of honesty and goodness. And, as do most skillful pyromaniacs, Iago first prepares his most important target, Othello:
Though in the trade of war I have slain men, \ Yet do I hold it very stuff o'th' conscience To do no contrived murder. I lack the iniquity.
. .\ I had thought t'have yerked him under the ribs\ . . .\ . . .he prated\
And spoke such scurvy and provoking terms\ Against your Honor (I,...
Cited: Goddard, Harold C. The Meaning of Shakespear. Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1960. 75-76.
Ridley, M. R. Othello. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1959. lx-lxiii.
Shakespeare, William. Othello. New
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