William Shakespeare, born: 1564 died: 1616, is considered one of the greatest writers who has ever lived. He had a unique way of putting things into words. All of his plays, sonnets, and poems have gotten great recognition. But when Shakespeare wrote Othello he created one of the most controversial villains of all times; Iago. He is best described as disturbing, ruthless, and amoral. No other character can even come close to his evil (Iago: The 1). Iago, in the play Othello, is a very intriguing villain.
Even though he is often referred to as “Honest” Iago, he lies, cheats, steals, bullies, and even kills just to get what he wants (Iago as 1). Iago starts off being evil when he finds out that Othello gave Cassio the position of lieutenant that he felt he deserved. To take this position from Cassio he must not let his conscience get in his way. This is not a problem with Iago because he has no conscience. Iago is able to manipulate anyone who gets in the way of his goals. He does this over and over during the course of the play. He uses all Carroll 2 the characters to destroy Othello.
He used the tension that was already existent to bring him down. And he also uses his intense sense of intuition. Iago is an excellent judge of character. He also makes it seem like he posseses characteristics that he really doesnt have. Iago often wonders why someone would pretend to be something they are not, when in fact that is exactly what he represents. He has many fronts that he can put up. Every character in Othello had a relationship with the different sides of his personality. He uses this to his advantage in the case of Roderigo loving Desdemona.
By knowing that Roderigo is madly in love with her, he knows he will do anything to be with Desdemona. Iago says about Roderigo, ” Thus do I ever make a fool of my purse;” (1. 3. 353). By going on what he knows about Roderigo, he is able to get money and jewels from him. He doesnt even think twice before taking things from someone who supposedly considers Iago to be his friend. Iago is also capable of thinking very quickly in any situation. This makes him able to handle himself when something he does not expect happens. He can recognize the advantages of trust and uses it to gain what he wants.
He has it in his mind that if he has everyone’s trust no one will ever expect him to be at the root of all the evil in this play. He can put thoughts Carroll 3 into people’s heads without making it look like he is playing mind games with them. He is just a smart individual who knows how to use his surroundings to his advantage. For example, in Act II, Scene III, Line 296-297 he says, “And what’s he then that says I play the villain,/When this advice is free I give, and honest/. ” Iago just proves himself to be the master of deception. It also makes it clear that he was in command on all the characters around him.
Iago, directly or indirectly, had something to do with the deaths of Othello, Desdemona, Emilia, Cassio and Roderigo. These are the main characters in the play that were all innocent victims of Iagos evil ways. All of the problems Iago caused were somehow done by lies, treachery, manipulation, and a great hate for good in general. Most of his hate stems from jealousy and revenge that his wishes to seek against Othello. Every hateful act that he commits contains some type of evil plot that in one way or another will have an effect on Othello.
This is ironic because he has Othello so fooled into believing that he is a true friend to him. He is just setting up the main plot in destroying Othello. Iago figures if Othello believes that he is only looking out for the good of him, he will never see anything coming. Carroll 4 Iago relies in others actions to be able to pull off his evil ways. He uses many of Othellos actions to reveal his cruel soul. Iago is able to use his cleverness to work on Othellos personal flaws. Especially when he gives Othello the ideas on how to kill Desdemona.
He simply states, Othello should strangle Desdemona when she is in her bed, rather than stabbing her in the chest (Kourounis 2). Iago doesnt have plans to kill Desdemona; he just wanted to get back at Othello because of all the things Iago feels that Othello has done to him. Iago, with Othello, is a very jealous man but does not want Othello to notice this so he keeps Othello believing he is on his side and is truly his friend.
Othello even states This fellows of exceeding honesty,/ And knows all qualities, with a learned spirit/ Of human dealings (3. . 257-259). When Othello isolates himself from everyone except Iago, he is giving Iago the perfect opportunity to carry out his devious course of action. Iago does nothing but demonstrate how evil and malicious he really is. Every action and every thought of his is either a tool of deception or way to manipulate someone. To anyone who has ever read Othello, Iago can be described in many pessimistic ways. Very few people believe that he had any other qualities other than the evil ones he shows throughout the play. Carroll 5
But, according to Nick Kourounis, he feels Iago is presented as the hero instead of the villain. He says, Iago possesses the general qualities of a hero (Kourounis 1). Kourounis believes Iago to be a hero because a hero is someone who is admired for his achievements, especially one who displays great courage even if he is right or wrong (Kourounis 1). Kourounis is one of the few people that were able to see any good points to Iago. He is jealous and has great anger for all the people that are in a higher position and are more powerful than he is.
Iago refuses to cooperate with those people that do posses more power than he does. This is just one of the many examples of Iagos distorted ways of thinking. Considering all the hatred and jealousy Iago possesses, how could anyone see good in such a ruthless, merciless sociopath. When William Shakespeare created Iago, he could not have made such an ideal villain. Iago stands for the eponymy of evil. He represents hatred and all that is bad. He lacks any credibility for his motives and takes great pleasure in his ability to destroy the lives of Othello, Desdemona, Cassio, and Emilia.
He created all the madness in the play but was never caught until the end finally arrived. Iago said it himself, I am not what I am (1. 1. 62). He proves this clearly that he seems like he is always watching out for people when really he is out Carroll 6 to devastate the lives of so many. Even though Iago was successful in eliminating Othello and the others, he was not victorious in the end because the problems he caused, deaths especially, cannot be resolved. Ironically everything that Iago pretended to be led to his end.