Iago In Othello

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Shakespeare’s play Othello exhibits many modern Freudian psychology theories, specifically through the character of Iago. Iago is a character who shows typical characteristics of a psychopath. Iago’s behaviour and intentions can be explained through modern Freudian psychology, and emphasised through the critical writings of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Fred West, who, respectively, argued Iago’s “motiveless malignity” and Shakespeare’s “profound and accurate portrayal of a psychopath in Iago”. Through this report, I will discuss how Freudian psychology can be used to further understand how Shakespeare’s Iago can be defined as a psychopath.

A psychopath is defined as “a person with a psychopathic personality, which manifests as amoral and antisocial behavior, lack of ability to love or
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Throughout Act I, Iago lists several reasons for his hatred and subsequent desire to ruin Othello, beginning with the fact that he wasn’t promoted to lieutenant while Cassio was, despite him having more experience. One Michael Cassio, a Florentine / (A fellow almost damn'd in a fair wife), / That never set a squadron in the field / But he, sir, had th' election ... (1.1.20-27). It is then quickly suggested that Iago’s rage is infused by his jealousy of Othello, and his suspicions that he has slept with his wife, Emilia. This may be a stronger motive than the latter, as Iago directly states that he “hates the Moor”.
And it is thought abroad that 'twixt my sheets / 'Has done my office. I know not if't be true; / Yet I, for mere suspicion in that kind, / Will do as if for surety. (1.3.378-82)
Although, yes, these reasons do give Iago enough motive to want to ruin Othello any rational person wouldn’t go as far as he did, and by applying Freudian psychology we can see that on a more profound level, Iago’s true motive is his overt love of evil. The stated motives of Iago are his attempts to rationalize his actions and are a

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