Iago the Psychopath

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Nicholas French Monday November 5th 2012
Ms. Waddell
Othello Essay: Is There Textual Proof of Iago Being a Psychopath

The character of Iago in Shakespeare’s “Othello” is fascinating; Shakespeare’s genius has created in Iago a truly evil and in the end despicable man. He has the dubious honour for being a main character, an antagonist too, in one of Shakespeare’s blood soaked tragedies and actually surviving the experience. A genius villain whose machinations and trickery brought about the downfall of main protagonist Othello, Iago’s traits and mannerisms that lead him there are we in today’s society would consider a full on Psychopath. Psychopathy is a personality disorder defined by certain characteristics such as shallow emotions, lack of empathy, cold-heartedness, lack of guilt, superficial charm, manipulations, anti-social behaviours among them a parasitic lifestyle and criminality. Shakespeare’s Iago shows textual evidence of each and every one of these traits.
The main characteristic found in all psychopaths is that of false affection and superficial charm. This allows them to befriend and gain the trust of powerful people who they use to further their own ends. Iago is no different, he uses his undeniable skill with words to influence and worm himself in with Othello and rope in Rodrigo for his own ends by playing on his fantasies. Iago in Act III, Scene III pg. 106 in his attempts to influence Othello of Desdemona’s unfaithfulness “I humbly do beseech you of your pardon, For too much loving you” this sheen of affection and dogged loyalty that Iago puts on until the very end convinces Othello that the only thing that subservient Iago could possibly think of is him. It is amusing how that the one person whose Iago’s affectionate mask seems to have no effect on is his own wife Emilia. She seems to regard their marriage as a necessary part of society by the way she talks of his disloyalties and in the end breaks his web of trickery and deception.

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