Iago Character: Discuss the character of Iago, ensign to Othello


Though Iago may easily be marked as a charismatic genius yet he is one of the most evil characters in English literature and the most evil in Shakespeare. He is another Satan proud of his evil. Iago is nothing but jealousy and hatred. However, at the same time Iago is the most interesting character in the play. Though the play is all bout the tragedy of Othello, yet we move along the story with Iago primarily. Iago is a tale of antagonism in himself. No matter how evil is Iago, he has certain characteristics which may be discussed to further illuminate the capabilities and limitations of the all-out evil, Iago. Critics have pointed out certain aspects in the character of Iago which lead to certain assumptions as to the true motifs behind his wish for the ruin of Othello, the Moor.

Jealousy and Hatred: Iago is a trusted ensign to Othello. He is very sharp and intelligent as well. Cassio, a lieutenant to Othello has been promoted while ignoring Iago. This rouses the feelings of antagonism and untamed jealousy in the heart of Iago. Now he hates both Cassio and Othello. He says:

"I hate the moor.

My cause is hatred".

He clearly states his jealousy for the blissful and joyous Othello "were I the Moor, I would not be Iago". Moreover, Cassio is smarter and more handsome than he is. "He hath a daily beauty in his life that makes me ugly", says Iago. He doubts that his wife Emilia has intimacy with both Cassio and Othello. Iago tells us:

"I hate the Moor,

And it is thought abroad that 'twixt my sheets

Has done my office".

Rvenge: Having got the reasons for hatred and jealousy, Iago is set on the path of Satan to destroy Othello as well as Cassion, the honest and faithful lieutenant. "Put the Moor into a jealousy so strong That judgment cannot cure".

Iago is probably under the strong influence of racist views and this causes him great jealousy to see the moor getting happier and happier. He wishes to see his downfall because a black man, apparently far informer than Iago, is on the rise.

Cunning & Opportunist: "Iago is most honest", says Othello. He hides his true identity: "I am not what I am". "In following him, I follow but myself". Master Planner and executor: He is well versed in the skills of warfare and planning under trying circumstances "my sick fool Roderigo".

"Tis in ourselves that we are thus or thus.

Our bodies are gardens, to the which our wills are gardeners."


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