Othello vs. Iago

Topics: Othello, Iago, William Shakespeare Pages: 7 (2457 words) Published: March 6, 2006
Othello vs. Iago

As the villain in Shakespeare's play Othello, Iago has two main actions. They are to plot and to deceive. Iago wishes to plot and to deceive because he is jealous of Othello and hates him. Iago's reasons for why he hates Othello is because he believes that Othello made love to his wife, and Iago is mad that Cassio was chosen to be Lieutenant instead of himself. From this hate comes the main conflict of the play.

Iago plans to ruin Othello because of Iago's jealousy towards him is by carrying out a plan to get back at Othello based on lies and deceit. This plan will make Iago the only person that Othello believes he can trust, and Iago will use this trust to manipulate Othello. Iago plans to remove Cassio from his position as lieutenant so that he himself takes over Cassio's position as confidant and Lieutenant to Othello. Then Iago hopes to convince Othello that Cassio and Desdemona are having an affair.

There is reason to why Iago wishes to destroy Othello by saying that "the villain who's motiveless malignity hidden beneath as honest exterior, causes Othello‘s downfall" (May 10). In other words, one reason for Iago destroying Othello is that Iago is a naturally bad person.

The conversations that Iago has with Roderigo and Cassio show that Iago invents reasons for his actions against Othello, so that his own selfish ends can be met. Iago uses Roderigo's weakness to help him remove Cassio from his lieutenant position. Iago tells Roderigo to "put money in thy purse" (Shakespeare 333). Iago urges Roderigo to earn money now so that he can be an eligible suitor when Desdemona is looking for another husband or at least that is what Iago believes.

Iago tells Roderigo what he wants to hear in order to enlist his help. However, in the following soliloquy the reader is introduced to what Iago really has planned. "Thus do I ever make my fool my purse/ For I mine own gained knowledge should profane/ If I would time expand with such a snipe/ But for my sport and profit" (Shakespeare 365-368). He states that he would never associate with someone like Roderigo except to gain his own ends.

Iago feels that Roderigo is a foolish man who exists only for Othello's use or sport. This idea is reinforced by the word snipe. David Bender in Readings on the Tragedies of William Shakespeare defines snipe as "fool" (159) and states that the word meant "gull or dupe" (159) before Shakespeare's time. These definitions emphasize the fact that Iago feels no respect for Roderigo and is manipulating Roderigo only to further his plan. In the same speech, Iago's real plan is revealed only to the audience. Iago wants to convince Othello that Cassio and Desdemona are in love. They are the two people that Othello trusts, and if Othello believes that they have turned on him, this will lead to his downfall.

Iago plans to tell Othello that Cassio and Desdemona are having an affair. Cassio is a ladies man, and Iago believes that Cassio's charm makes women fall in love with him. "After some time to abuse Othello's ears/ That he is too familiar with his wife/ He hath a person and a smooth dispose/ To be suspected, framed to make women false" (Shakespeare378-380). Iago will make the innocent flirtations of Cassio and Desdemona seem like secret love to Othello.

Iago planted a seed of hope in Roderigo, and the next time they speak, Iago uses this hope to turn Roderigo against Cassio. In this scene Iago tells Roderigo that Desdemona is directly in love with Cassio (Shakespeare 215). From their previous discussion, Roderigo believes that he will be with Desdemona when she is no longer with Othello. Roderigo realizes that he has competition (or is made to think that he has competition with Cassio), and this information is given to Roderigo only because Iago hopes that Roderigo will initiate a fight with Cassio. This fight will get Cassio in trouble and hopefully remove him from his position. Cassio is not an aggressive soldier...
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