Iago Essay, Research Paper
“Honest” Iago, is perhaps the most interesting and exotic character in the tragic play Othello, by William Shakespeare. Iago is not your ordinary villain. The role he plays is rather unique and complex, far from what one might expect. Iago is very smart. He is manipulative and cunning. He is an excellent judge of people and their characters, and uses this to his advantage. However, like most villains, Iago is ?two-faced?, he is not what he appears and this provides a sound alibi for his plans. Iago is also very dominating, he strives to succeed and reach his objectives. However, it is the way in which he goes about this that is unique and what makes him the extraordinary character he is.
The play it self, is an excellent example of Iagos manipulation of others, in particular Othello. Through some carefully thought-out words and actions, Iago is able to manipulate others to do things in a way that benefits him and moves him closer toward his goals. Iago has many qualities that enables him to do this, one of which is his ability to judge people. For example, he knows Roderigo is in love with Desdemona and figures that he would do anything to have her as his own. Iago says about Roderigo, “Thus do I ever make my fool my purse.” [Act I, Scene III, Line 376] By playing on his hopes, Iago is able to swindle money and jewels from Roderigo, making himself a substantial profit, while using Roderigo to forward his other goals.
Another of Iagos assets is that he is very quick thinking and has an excellent ability to improvise whenever something unexpected occurs. For example when Cassio takes hold of Desdemona’s hand before the arrival of the Moor Othello, Iago says, “With as little a web as this will I ensnare as great a fly as Cassio.” [Act II, Scene I, Line 163] This, combined with his cunning and craftiness, makes him a very powerful villain indeed.
Being as smart as he is, Iago is quick to recognize the advantages of trust and uses it as a tool hide his plot. Throughout the play he is commonly known as, and commonly called, “Honest Iago.” He even says of himself, “I am an honest man….” [Act II, Scene III, Line 245] Iago realises that trust is a very powerful emotion that is easily abused. Iagos ultimate plot is against Othello and the plot succeeding is only made possible or al least, made much easier by Othellos unrelenting trust in him. This trust is exemplified by the quote, Othello “holds [him] well;/The better shall [Iago's] purpose work on him.” Iago is a master of turning people’s trust in him into tools to forward his own goals. Iago slowly poisons people’s thoughts, creating ideas in their heads without implicating himself. “And what’s he then that says I play the villain, when this advice is free I give, and honest,” [Act II, Scene III, Line 299] says Iago. And thus, people rarely stop to consider the possibility that Iago could be deceiving or manipulating them. However the reader knows of Iago?s mask through the use of dramatic irony. As a result, to most characters, particularly Othello, he is “Honest Iago.” while to the reader he is Iago the villain.
By the end of the play, Iago is shown to be a villain and the mastermind behind an intricate plot of revenge against his almost ignorant general. However, it was through no flaw of Iago?s other than he chose the wrong person to do the job of killing Cassio. And it was Roderigo?s incompetence that was the downfall of Iago. But Iago must receive credit for his ingeniousness and for the fact that he was what many would say to be the most powerful character in the play.