Iago: Evil Incarnate
“I follow him to serve my turn upon him. We cannot all be masters, nor all masters Cannot be truly follow'd” (1.1.42-44). Iago’s speech to Roderigo in the first scene gives the audience their first glimpse at his true nature. He shows here that he only serves Othello in order to serve himself; this statement hints at his overarching scheme to bring down Othello in the end. Iago is unquestionably the villain in Othello, but beyond that, he perfectly personifies evil in every action he takes. Although his goal is apparent from the beginning of the play, the focus should not be on what, but how; the methods Iago uses to achieve his goals are what make him such a good villain. Iago is a great villain because of his effectiveness, and his effectiveness stems from the relentlessness in which he pursues his goal to ruin Othello. Iago’s personality, methods, consistent effectiveness, and pleasure in the harm he does all combine to make him the perfect villain and an excellent personification of evil. Iago does a masterful job at deceiving those around him in many different areas, but one of the most important is his true nature. In the same speech as the one quoted above, Iago repeats that same concept saying, “In following him, I but follow myself” (1.1.58). He is declaring that everything he does is working towards his own ends, including his service to Othello. One more time, at the end of his speech, he signifies that all is not as it seems with the statement, “I am not what I am” (65). This speech lets the audience in on his secret, and prepares them for the future evildoings that Iago will perpetrate in the pursuit of his goals. One of the interesting things about the speech is that it is not addressed to the audience, but to Roderigo. We can see early in the play that he sees Roderigo as simply a pawn to be used in his greater goal of taking down Othello. Still, he is so confident in his deceitful skills that he admits to one of the...
Cited: Shakespeare, William. Othello. Ed. Philip Weller. Othello Navigator. Shakespeare Navigators, n.d. Web. 9 Dec 2012.
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