Othello By Shakespeare Essay Research Paper Shakespeares

Othello By Shakespeare Essay, Research Paper

Shakespeare?s Othello introduces a striking and fascinating character, Iago,

to all of its readers. His evilness and ambition for revenge has the ability to

grasp each reader?s attention and not let go. And Shakespeare wastes no time

in presenting his audience with such an astounding character. As the play opens,

it immediately becomes apparent that Iago is already at work. He is using his

skills to, once again, convince Roderigo that he will persuade Desdemona to fall

in love with him, and in return Iago will aquire a portion of Roderigo?s great

fortune. Nonetheless, it is not only Iago?s evil ways that catch the attention

of the audience; his manipulative cunningness, and his power-complex both play a

major role in the unfolding of his character. Although the antagonistic Iago is

the perpetuator of the evil in Othello, he is no fool. On the contrary, many

scholars, both contemporary and from Shakespeare?s time, consider Iago the

most intelligent character in the play. This intelligence enables him to be very

cunning, allowing him to manipulate nearly every character in the play to his

benefit. He is also very careful in his choice of words. At the beginning of the

play in Act I Scene I, while prodding Roderigo to alert Desdemona?s father of

her disobedience, Iago tells him to ?Do, with like timorous accent and dire

yell/ As when, by night and negligence, the fire/ Is spied in populous

cities.? Iago knows that the bigger they play out the scene and the more

hatred they infuse in him, the more likely he will be to cause problems to

Othello. He is also quick to leave the area before Brabantio comes down and

calls him to be a witness against Othello, his boss. Iago is always quick to

flatter or glorify someone before engaging in too deep of a conversation because

he knows that it will soften him or her up and they will be more likely to

listen to him and tell him what he wants to know. For example, in Iago?s first

conversation with Othello, he first says how he had to restrain himself from

killing Roderigo for badmouthing the general, and then promptly asks him whether

or not he married Desdemona. There are numerous other occasions that demonstrate

Iago?s intelligence and cunningness, for example the handkerchief ordeal, but

there are just too many to name here. It becomes evident, as you read through

Othello, that Iago is obsessed with power. His power-complex involves both money

and a fixation on having a position of authority. His money-loving issue is best

shown in his dialogue with Roderigo in Act I Scene II starting at line 327. On

every-other line he tells Roderigo to ?Put money in thy purse? and ?fill

thy purse with money.? He convinces Roderigo not to kill himself so he can

continue being paid by this wealthy man. The biggest motive Iago has for his

actions in the play is the fact that Othello passed him over for promotion, and

the position was given to someone with little experience. Iago is greatly

outraged by this, so outraged that he conspires to get revenge on both Othello

and Cassio. This proves he has a power complex because he would much rather have

the position of greater power, lieutenant, than the position of ensign, which

was one that held great respect, love, and trust. In other words, he didn?t

get promoted but he still has a great job. In Act I Scene I, Iago discloses to

Roderigo and the readers that ?Preferment goes by letter and affection,/ And

not by old gradation, where each second/ Stood heir to the first.? This means

that who is chosen to be promoted is not chosen by experience and a step-ladder

seniority system, but rather he is chosen through personal influence and

favoritism. In ?Pattern in Othello?, Ralph Berry writes ??.. there are

hints that Iago comes from a lower social stratum than Cassio, and in the

drinking scene Cassio?s references to ?man of quality? and ?the

lieutenant is to be saved before the ancient? suggest an element of class

antagonism?. Cassio was probably well known and liked throughout the land (he

was, after all, one of Brabantio?s choices for Desdemona) and no doubt

received the promotion through knowing people. This vexes Iago even more, and

could account for his lust for money as a means of gaining a higher social

status. Iago is an intelligent man and an experienced warrior who could achieve

much good if he used his skills positively to create rather than destroy. He

allowed his power-complex to invade his mind and consequently used his

intelligence and smooth-talk to bring doom to those he was supposed to love, and

ultimately to himself also.


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