Shakespeare's Othello is a tale of betrayal, jealousy, and revenge. The antagonist in the play, Iago, is considered to be one of Shakespeare's most evil characters. Such a title is directed at this personality by many critics who claim that Iago lacks a definite, justified purpose for his activities. Without a sturdy motive, the only thing to bring about an work of evil will be the fact of evil embedded within the character himself. Thus, many see Iago's character as demonic rather than individuals. However, Iago's actions are products of clear motives. As the play begins, Iago introduces himself as a identity who is susceptible to jealousy. Iago does not symbolize demonic evil, but rather a man who is powered to commit damaging actions as a result of being pressed beyond his boundaries.
The source of Iago's motivation is seen from the beginning of the play. "Iago provides the audience with a number of hints to the motives for his activities. First he feels a certain rancor at not being chosen as Othello's lieutenant" (Dominic 337). He's expecting to be marketed to lieutenant by Othello, however Cassio becomes lieutenant. "One Michael Cassio, a Florentine (A fellow almost damned in a fair better half) That never set a squadron in the field, . . . He, in good time, must his lieutenant be, And I- God bless the draw!- his Moorship's ancient" (Shakespeare 3, 4). Iago is thoroughly upset with Othello's decision to market Cassio rather than him, especially after years of dedicated service. He also comments on Cassio's inexperience with leadership on the battlefield. Iago essentially seems betrayed by Othello with Cassio's promotion. "The lack of campaign has confronted him with a view of inadequacy in his occupation" (Williams 97). With this simple action, Othello has made Iago feel that his job in armed forces service and the warfare he has been subjected to have been around in vain, since he cannot progress in positioning and is being replaced by way of a naive soldier. This gives Iago with an acceptable excuse to carry a grudge against Othello, based on betrayal. He is also given reason to become hostile toward Cassio, predicated on his jealousy.
The sense of betrayal that Iago feels toward Othello is strengthened when he suspects that his better half is having an affair with Othello. "I hate the Moor, And it is thought in foreign countries that 'twixt my sheets He has done my office. I know not if't be true, But I for mere suspicion for the reason that kind Will do as if for surety" (Shakespeare 28). Within this statement he uses the term "hate" toward Othello. Plainly, the relationship between these two previous friends has decayed as a result of Othello's choice never to promote Iago. However in this assertion, Iago addresses a fresh topic. He begins to trust his better half has slept with Othello, even though he doesn't have any physical evidence. However, the suspicion by itself is enough to convince him. His trust for Othello have been greatly reduced after sense betrayed, so he seems that his suspicion must be justified and also have merit. "[Iago] suspects that Othello has involved in adultery with his wife, Emilia. . . Seemingly, Iago is so distressed by the idea of Emilia sleeping with Othello that he has accused Emilia of the action" (Dominic 337). His suspicion consumes him to the main point where he starts to perceive his assumptions as unquestionable actuality. He starts to accuse his wife of this action of adultery. With this, his lack of trust for Othello is dispersing like a disease as he branches out his distrust to his own partner. This suspicion ends up learning to be a main element in Iago's decision to have revenge, and contributes a new sufferer to his list.
After these two events in the story, Iago starts to apply his well-developed and successful manipulative skills. Iago proves to have a rather impressive ability in his deceptive capacity. Iago demonstrates he is a guy of fierce cleverness at this time in the story with his outstanding planning and deception. "He's a get good at manipulator and provides the other personas in the play to do just what he needs. He manipulates through a keen understanding he appears to have of what motivates them" (Dominic 336). His strategy is to exploit the wants or goals of the other characters in order to achieve his own wishes. For example, he uses Roderigo and eventually ends up eradicating him solely to increase his own personal gain. Roderigo's goal throughout the play is to earn the heart and soul of Desdemona. Iago, well aware of this, uses Roderigo to reunite at Othello. "He commences Othello's devastation by awakening Brabanito. Or, somewhat, he directs someone else to awaken Brabanito: he gets someone else to do his grubby work" (Williams 99). Iago makes Roderigo jealous of Othello's romantic relationship with Desdemona and Roderigo with a motive to aid him in his attempts to set-up chaos in Othello's life. In this particular landscape, he wakes Desdemona's dad and angers him with a tale of her working off with Othello. "Iago. . . is not simply a guy of action, he is an designer. His action is plot, the intricate story of a play, and in the conception and execution from it he experiences the strain and the happiness of artistic creation (Bradley 440)". This technique of manipulation proves to be extremely effective up until the finishing of the play. Iago is so careful in his scheming that it's considered a skill. It provides him with a great sense of fulfillment, even though his actions are solely dangerous. Such brilliance and success in his plotting makes him appear to be a perfect, deceptive evil, or the daddy of Lies himself.
However, it isn't correct give Iago demonic status as many critics do. Iago is associated with demons by Othello at the end of the storyplot, however, even Othello is well aware that Iago is only individual. "I look down towards his feet; but that is clearly a fable. If that thou be'st a devil, I cannot eliminate thee" (Shakespeare 124). That is said right before Othello stabs Iago. Othello is attempting to show that Iago's demonic action does not imply he's in truth an immortal demon. "He is looking to see if Iago has cloven feet like the devil Othello now considers him to be" (Dominic 337). Othello glances at Iago's feet and confirms that Iago will indeed have human being feet, and for that reason must be human. "Will you, I pray, demand that demi-devil Why he hath thus ensnared my soul and body?" (Shakespeare 125) Here, Othello accuses Iago of being only half a devil. One half is the physical person of Iago. The spouse is his patterns, which seems to resemble evil or demonic patterns. However, the actual fact remains that Iago is human being and consciously made the decision to cause harm to these characters on his own free will.
Iago's identity makes a clear and dramatic transformation from stable to unstable as the play advances. At the beginning of the play "There is absolutely no hint of any psychological unbalance in his personality" (Williams 96). The character starts out psychologically sound. This removes all questions pertaining to whether or not this figure is normal. Any first hint of unusual tendencies would be data to support the argument that Iago's figure is demonic, however he will not show any predisposition toward the evil tendencies he exhibits later on in the play. "But at the start of the play we visit a man of insatiable furry" (Williams 96). The fury the critic identifies is a result of the quick changes and incidents Iago is offered at the very start of play. He becomes amazingly furious with the jealousy of Cassio's campaign and Othello's betrayal. The emotions he feels at this time are only the start periods of his rage. These emotions build upon one another over time into more intense thoughts of anger and paranoia. Eventually, Iago becomes completely consumed by his dread and hate and serves on it the simplest way he can want to act. By the finish of the play, this leads him to get rid of off those near to him without sensing the slightest guilt.
Iago was well create to be so successful in his actions long before he started his scheming. Iago is an intellectually gifted man. He definitely possesses a proper mentality, since he is a commanding officer in the armed service. He is able to use this gift for both good and evil. He first uses this talent to successfully struggle for his country and also to eventually get himself advertised to a commanding position. However, this same strategic thought process is put to use when he begins to plot his revenge against Othello. Another gain lies in his personality. Iago comes across as an extremely trustworthy and honest character. Throughout the play it is reiterated that he has a trustworthiness of being truthful. "It would appear that he is and has been always an totally reliable and reliable person. . . He was blunt and forthright, but he was truthful-- always a primary, outspoken, but genuine partner" (Williams 97). He is able to take advantage of his own reputation and utilize it as a tool against his victims. His reputation performs in the same way an important part in his successful manipulation as does his natural ability to scheme. Without being perceived as a reliable person, nothing of his lies, which account for the bulk of his plot, would have been bought by his victims and his efforts for revenge will be a failure.
Iago only appears to have a demonic identity through his extremely successful and well-plotted manipulative actions, when really he represents the evil potential of man when helped by brains, reputation, and skill. Iago is the perfect illustration to the fact that "evil is compatible, and even seems to ally itself easily, with exceptional forces of will and intellect" (Bradley 440). Iago's evil intentions were of his own will and scheming, but were permitted along with his unequaled potential to deceive. His drive spurs from jealousy and betrayal, which he is not capable of tolerating well. He allows these emotions to eat away at him rather than searching for a rational treatment for his conflict. He becomes paranoid consequently of the betrayal and selects to believe that his better half is guilty of committing adultery with Othello. All this motivates Iago to get started on scheming, which eventually brings about the loss of life of many of the takes on main character types. His scheming is apparently of demonic electric power because it is so complex, brilliant, and successful, however, Iago rather possesses a unique skill in his manipulative capability and takes satisfaction and pleasure in his work to exploit those around him. Iago's evil objective was amplified and made so destructive therefore of his own paranoia, exaggerated mental stress, impressive expertise to manipulate, and seemingly trusted personality rather than by a demonic presence.
Works CitedShakespeare, William. Othello. NY, NY. Bantam Catalogs. Copyright 1988. Bradley, A. C. "Iago. " Shakespeare for Students. Gale Research Inc. , copyright 1972. pp. 436-442. Dominic, Catherine C. "The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice. " Shakespeare Characters for Students. Gale Group, 1997. pp. 336-337. Williams, George W. "Iago the Poisoner. " Readings on Othello. Greenhaven Press, 2000. pp. 96-101.