Othello And Iago In Shakespeare

’s Othello Essay, Research Paper

How is Iago the PERSONIFICATION of evil? Be sure to define evil and cite specific examples, references, and incidents that support your definition of evil.

Iago is Satan incarnate. Although Othello honestly believes that Iago is one of the most truthful and faithful servants he has ever had, Iago is truly innately evil because Iago constantly plots against Othello and repeatedly conspires against everybody in the play. Because of Iago s evil characteristics, he does not deserve the trust that Othello bestows upon him. Iago demonstrates all of the greatest traits of evil; he lies, misleads people, wears two faces, and he frames and manipulates people any chance he has. Evil is Iago and Iago fits the definition of evil: morally bad or wrong; wickedness. Iago is inherently evil.

Through out the Shakespeare play, Othello, Iago displays numerous characteristics synonymous with evil characters. One of Iago s such traits is his consistent lying to numerous people through out the play. The majority of Iago s lies are through omission, he does not tell the whole truth. More than anybody, Iago lies to Othello in this manner. Iago does not tell Othello that he has been supporting all of the things that have been going astray for Othello. One such incident was when Iago rallied Roderigo and joined in a mutual hatred for Othello. Roderigo hated Othello because Roderigo wanted to get with Desdemona. The incident with the most significance concerning Iago s lying was that of the handkerchief given to Desdemona by Othello. As Othello discovers that Michael Cassio is in possession of the handkerchief, Iago neglects to mention to Othello that he was the main pushing force in seeing to it that Cassio comes to have possession of the handkerchief. Othello makes it very easy for Iago to lie to him. It is so easy for Iago because Othello is entirely too trusting and he s blind to Iago s attempts at knavery.

Iago is extremely misleading. He does it on purpose so it is also lying. Since society considers lying evil then Iago is yet again proven to be evil. There is situational irony in Men should be what they seem (Othello; Iago- Act III sc. iii: Ln.126). This is ironic because Iago is the converse of this statement. He is exactly the opposite of what he seems. Because he is leading Othello to believe something that is not true, he is misleading Othello. Othello, because he is ignorant, falls into the traps that Iago lays for him. As Iago plots to synthesize Othello s end, Othello believes that Iago is his most trustworthy and truthful man in his life.

Iago plays the part of Satan in many ways. One way that is not directly shown but is very strongly implied is that Iago is bisexual. This is shown in Iago s asides and his talks with other characters in the play. Often as Iago speaks of Othello, he talks repeatedly about loving him and admiring him. If Iago were not married, this could be used to imply that he was homosexual. During the Elizabethan era, homosexuals and bisexuals were sometimes considered to be Devil s Advocate(s) by the general population. This is not to say the entire population thought this but it was viewed as unclean, evil, and immoral to be bisexual or homosexual during the Elizabethan era and through many societies today. Since it was viewed to be evil at the time, the fact that Iago is bisexual leads to conclusions that he is evil.

Iago interacts in other forms of lying as well as misleading Othello, and lying by omission. Iago lies by wearing two faces and being hypocritical. The recurring theme dealing with Iago wearing two faces is with Othello. As Othello eternally trusts Iago, Iago is going around attempting to create drama in Othello s life. One porcelain example was when Roderigo and Iago bonded in their hatred for Othello in the first scene. As their scheme to expose Othello s marriage to Desdemona, Iago runs to Othello to play his best friend and confidant. Iago does not just play both sides so he can have a little fun. Iago ultimately plans to destroy Othello and the only way to do that is to gain his trust so he could work from the inside. Seeing that Iago is a liar in most all senses of the work he is inherently evil and is Lucifer incarnate.

Iago also conspires against Othello and everybody that could make Othello s life more miserable. He uses his wife, Emilia, to fetch the handkerchief from Desdemona. Iago does not care about anybody but himself. By having Emilia fetch the handkerchief, if anybody is blamed for the action it is not he. This way he can cover his tracks and get the things done without the risk of being caught. Iago also uses situations to his advantage. As he set up the situation with the handkerchief, he manipulated it to see that Othello suffers for being Othello. As Iago conspires against people and uses other people to do his dirty work, he exhibits a trait of evil, which proves he is evil.

Iago demonstrates inconsiderate actions, which are not specifically traits of the devil. These actions nonetheless are devious in nature and adamantly rude. Iago s vile intentions are evident in the last scene of Othello just before Othello kills himself. As Othello and the others present implored Iago for an explanation for his actions, Iago simply said he would not justify or explain his actions to anybody. By refusing simple justification of his actions, Iago gave the final sting to Othello that would keep Iago in control of the situation. It also would not allow Othello the pleasure of knowing what he had one to deserve the strike to his pride that Iago had provided. Iago is truly evil. He deprived a dying man of the final information that would set his soul at peace. Since Iago insists on twisting the knife in Othello s side he is inconsiderate and purely evil.

Since Iago has displayed many traits of evil, he is evil. Shakespeare s writing genius makes it possible for the reader to fully understand how truly evil Iago is. Although Othello trusts Iago with all his heart, Iago is untrustworthy because he is consistently plotting against Othello and lying to him. If Othello were not so na ve he might have been able to see through Iago s fa ade and could have prevented the tragic death of his wife and his suicide. It was very easy for Iago to deceive Othello because of Othello s lack of self-knowledge, experiences were limited to war and battle, his jealousy, and his rage. All of these factors made it a simple deed for Iago to repeatedly demonstrate his evil nature, emphatically lie, and cheat Othello and all of the most influential people in his life. Iago is evil. By the purest definition and the most obvious reasoning, Iago exhibits the traits of the devil.

Works Cited

1. Othello, William Shakespeare; Penguin Books, Inc (375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014), 1958, 1970, 1986.



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