Iago And Betrayal In “Othello”

Topics: Iago, Othello, Michael Cassio Pages: 7 (2545 words) Published: October 15, 2013
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05/11/11
Iago And Betrayal In “Othello”
“Othello” is one of the most successful plays in Shakespeare’s collection. One of the subjects the tragedy addresses is betrayal which is a crucial part of the play that helps the author develop events to bring it to its climax. Iago’s character symbolizes disloyalty, but what are the motives of his treachery? It seems like there is not enough reason for his actions. By creating Iago in “Othello” as perhaps a masterpiece villain comparing to all his other plays, Shakespeare introduces to the audience and reader an evil type of person who unfortunately exists in society, and he suggests that disloyalty is just part of such person’s nature, so one could betray for the sake of betrayal itself. Iago is one of the main characters in “Othello”. Being perhaps the most monstrous villain in Shakespeare, Iago is intriguing for his most awful attribute: disloyalty. From the beginning of the play, Iago is introduced as a deceiving character. As E. A. J. Honigmann, the editor of the Arden Shakespeare, points out, Iago expresses his anger towards Othello not merely for passing lieutenancy over to Cassio instead of giving it to him, but he is mad because he is not considered to be good enough for being an officer (37). People who have self esteem and virtues, would probably leave Othello instead of serving him, but for Iago that would not be a wise step to make, “I follow him to serve my turn upon him”, (Act 1. scene 1. 41). It is perhaps not a surprise for a sly person like Iago to think higher of himself, “By the faith of man I know my price, I am worth no worse a place” (Act 1. Scene 1. 8). Since Iago was expecting to get the position himself and did not get it, he is holding a grudge and wants revenge from both Othello and Cassio. In order to achieve his goal, Iago is working with an ally whom he manipulates and uses just like he does with everyone else in the play. Like Honigmann notices, Iago does this under the disguise of loyalty and friendship by which he convinces others to take the path of his schemed plan(37); thus, making others fall into his trap. Knowing that Roderigo is very fond of Desdemona and will do anything to get her heart, Iago uses Roderigo’s feelings to extort money from him, “Thus do I ever make my fool my purse” (Act 1. Scene 3. 382). Meanwhile, by mixing up things in Othello’s life, Iago is able to punish the Moor and his lieutenant Casio. It seems like he can win in both ways by gaining financially from Roderigo and enjoying the implementation of his treacherous plan. At first, he raises Desdemona’s father Brabantio against Othello. Interestingly, Iago does not directly participate in accomplishment of his deceiving plans; he uses others to do it by “poisoning” their minds to raise against each other. For informing Brabantio about Desdemona’s marriage to Othello, Iago uses Roderigo whom he recognizes as a “sick fool” (Act 2. Scene 3. 48). He pairs with Roderigo since they both have common enemies—Othello and Casio whom they plot to destroy together. Editors Craig and Bevington notice that Iago naturally takes pleasure in his malicious actions; his maneuverings give him both “sport” and ”profit” (945). In Cypress, at first Roderigo is being used to make a fight with Cassio to get Othello disapprove his lieutenant. When Othello orders Iago to kill Cassio, what better tool could Iago find for the murder if not using Roderigo? Besides being deceiving, Iago also is a coward, “For I fear Cassio with my night-cap too” (Act 2. Scene 1. 305). He knows he might get killed in the fight with Cassio, so instead he puts his ally Roderigo in danger. When Roderigo is injured during the fight, Iago kills him to make sure the treachery is not revealed by Roderigo. Cassio is another character appearing in Iago’s playground. Although Iago hates Cassio, he never shows any dislike; rather, he is friendly with him. As professor Zender notices in his research, Iago suggests...

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