Othello: Iago Appearance vs. Realality

Topics: Othello, Iago, Michael Cassio Pages: 6 (2409 words) Published: April 2, 2001
Iago is one of Shakespeare's most complex villains. Initially you get the impression that the character of Iago is one of pure evil. Right from the start of Act 1, it becomes obvious that he is capable of most anything. You see right away that he is able to give the appearance of one thing, but in reality be something quite different. He has been acting like he is interested in helping Roderigo by bringing gifts and messages to Desdemona for him. Iago is in reality using Roderigo who is very gullible and in fact not too bright. Iago plays him like a fool, even taking money from him as payment for doing him favors.

Criticism # 1

A.Introduction – The theory that Othello is a play about the jealousy of one man, not Othello but Iago, is noted by several critics of the play. B.Quotation – " It is Iago's own jealousy which enables him to provoke the same feelings in others, to use them to his own advantage, or at least to their disadvantage (which to him seems to be almost the same thing). " C.Explanation – A critic on the Internet " Dimitri Lozovoy " believes that the reason that Iago is such a successful schemer is the ability of his own jealousy provides him to be able to recognize the potential for the same feelings in others and to exploit it to gain his own ends.

When Roderigo finds out that Desdemona has eloped with Othello, he is sure that Iago must have known about it. He says " I take it much unkindly that thou, Iago, who hast had my purse As if the strings were thine, should'st know of this " (45 1-3). Iago is able to look Roderigo in the eye, lie to him and make him believe that he is really his friend. With his cunningness he is not only able to talk his way out of trouble, but is actually able to turn things around so that he is in control of the situation. Iago swears that the elopement was a complete surprise to him. Roderigo at first is still a little bit skeptical and responds " Thou told'st me thou didst hold him in thy hate " (45 5). Iago uses this opportunity to talk about himself in such a way as to get the pressure off of himself. He convinces Roderigo that he really does hate Othello by telling him how he was passed over for promotion to lieutenant. He tells Roderigo that there were three very important Venetians that tried to get Othello to give the lieutenant position to him. This is where Shakespeare develops the character of Iago beyond that of pure evil. He adds depth to the villain Iago by making him an amoral villain instead of a typical immoral one. Iago's scheme begins when Othello passes him over for promotion to lieutenant. He believes that Cassio is not suited for the promotion he received. " And what was he? Forsooth, a great arithmetician " (5 18-19). Iago is consumed with envy of Cassio and plots to get the position that he feels he should have been given since he was more deserving of it. Iago views himself as more deserving of the promotion to lieutenant since he is the one who has experience in the military whereas Cassio does not. We see that Iago is very smart and knows that trust is a very important tool that he can use to make things happen the way he wants. Throughout the story he is commonly known as and commonly referred to as an honest person. He even describes himself as being honest. " I am an honest man…. (101 245).

Criticism # 2

A.Introduction – The theory that Iago is one of Shakespeare's most intriguing and plausible villains because of his skill in manipulating his prey and numerous critics of the play note watching his deceptions wreak havoc. B." Feigning honesty, friendship and loyalty, he plants in Othello's mind doubts about Desdemona's fidelity. " C.Explanation – Writers for Encyclopedia Britannica believe that cleverly combines deceit and honor.

Iago is very well aware that trust is a very powerful emotion when combined with trust and he very craftily uses it to his benefit at every possible opportunity. Iago abuses peoples trust in him to...
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