Essay 1000 words
Honesty has limits
“Deceit and falsehood, whatever conveniences they may for a time promise or produce, are in the sum of life obstacles to happiness. Those who profit by the cheat distrust the deceiver, and the act by which kindness is sought puts an end to confidence”(Johnson218).Iago’s motives for his actions may be jealousy, greed, paranoia , and even the simple fact of seeing if he can get away with it. Iago has built a reputation that yields its own gravity. If Shakespeare’s setting took place in America, Iago would be the American dream. He’s married, he is a sound soldier, has an affinity for people, and is always there to help someone in need. Iago is the typical role model. What society fails to realize is that Iago does noble acts when visible but it remains unknown as to what his true intentions are. Iago’s relationship with Othello is one that gives with the right hand and takes with the left. In the right hand, putting race aside, Iago looks up to Othello as a father: he desires his attention, always wants to be involved in his life, and is someone whose footsteps he’d like to follow. Then we have Iago’s left hand, which takes race into account, cannot stand Othello to the point that his very own existence is to become the poison that fills his lungs and the host of the illusion that clouds his mind. The relationship between them is almost incredulous. Iago literally wants to be everything for Othello, the good and the bad. For this reason I believe it vindicates Iago’s methods towards Cassio.
Iago desires to be near Othello and for him to do such he must improve up the ranks of the militia because Othello is at the top. Othello is the one responsible for promotions and when the time came Othello chose to promote Cassio and not Iago. For what reasons remain unknown but the aftermath of it all is a man who feels betrayed and unwilling to accept reality. This drives Iago to his limit, creating his famous master plan that discombobulates society and leaves everyone confused. I disagree with it all; the fact that Iago is labeled as the bad guy. Context clues of the play help explain Iago’s warp mindedness. It may be possible that Iago at one time Iago lived as his outer shell portrays him to be until the age of twenty eight. In Act one Scene three Iago and Roderigo are having conversation that becomes a defining moment in the play.
“RoderigoIt is silliness to live when to live is torment; And then have we a prescription to die when death is our physician.
IagoO villainous! I have looked upon the world for four times seven years, and since I could betwixt a benefit and an injury, I never found man that knew how to love himself. Ere I would say I would change my humanity with a baboon” (ActI.SceneII.306-314).
Iago is saying that he has lived a life of honesty for twenty-eight years and now he can see how the world really is and he feels like he’s a joke. These are the early symptoms of the “monster” inside of Iago being created. Iago informs the reader again earlier that he doesn’t like the situation he’s put in. “I know my price; I am worth no worse a place. But he as loving his own pride and purposes, evades them with epithets of war, non-suits my mediators”(ActI.SceneI.10-14). Iago feels that not only has being honest for so long made him a joke but that he’s never going to be able to advance in society. He keeps having these conversations with Roderigo about self worth and with Iago still being in his honest state Roderigo bestows control of his money to Iago. Iago is already on the edge of the cliff in his mind because reality is kicking in and once he realizes that Roderigo is trying to manipulate him to get to Desdemona that’s enough to throw Iago over the edge.
Iago shouldn’t be seen as the villain, but more accurately as one that assimilates into an instinctively evil world and only opens the doors for others to release their own demons among each other. Iago never actually commits a crime until the end of the play when he assaults Roderigo and stabs Emilia. Everything else that occurred was everyone else’s own temptations and already subconscious evil thoughts. A key point of this is how Othello murders Desdemona without ever confronting Cassio or getting all the facts straight. Iago helps release the evil side of Othello on Desdemona and Othello does the rest of the evil deed by himself. Even though Iago’s plan becomes successful for the most part, the play is still tragic in that Iago only wanted what he was denied for so long that people refused to give him because he was so “honest”.
Iago was the perfect role model for twenty-eight years and he witnessed people without such qualities come out better than him which was enough to take him over the top. It is a true tragedy in that there aren’t any good characters, everyone is bad pretending to be good. The murders in the play would have never occurred if there was not a dark side to every character in the play and therefore Iago cannot be blamed for all these murders and crimes. In the end, Iago was not an evil villainous person, but was an honest person that felt for any self improvement in society to occur, would have to make decisions that would conflict with his “honest” nature. Works Cited
William, Shakespeare,, and Samuel Johnson. Othello authoritative text, sources and contexts, criticism. Ed. Edward Pechter. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2004. Print. William, Shakespeare,. Othello authoritative text, sources and contexts, criticism. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2004. Print.