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Othello Essay, Research Paper

In Othello, out of all of the characters that we are introduced to, Iago is without a doubt one of Shakespeare s most sinister characters, indeed to most of Shakespeare s readers, he is in fact a ruthless sociopath. No other character can even seem to come close to his evil. Most of the characters in Shakespeare’s plays have good reasons for the troubles they cause. Iago doesn’t for the most part, instead he just has a burning hatred for the world and especially Othello.

Iago is the whole reason there is any conflict in Othello. If he never had entered the play Othello would have married Desdemona and they would have lived happily ever after. Right from the beginning of the play to the very end he causes conflicts. He is directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of: Othello Desdemona, Emilia, Cassio, and Roderigo. Which all happen to be the main characters. I believe Shakespeare didn’t just want Iago’s character to be evil. I think he wanted him more to symbolize it.

All of the problems Iago causes are through lies, treachery, manipulation, and a deep unknown hate. Some of his hate is fueled by jealousy and revenge. The ironic part is that he wants to be known as “honest Iago” or maybe this could be a need to be known as honest Iago to go along with his great plan. Every act contains an evil plot set up by Iago, which all supposedly play into his “grand scheme”. In the very beginning of act 1 Iago displays his hatred for Othello. He is angry with him for making Cassio the lieutenant. Jealousy is his first motif. He than tells Roderigo (a former suitor of Desdemona) that Othello and Desdemona are getting married. The two of them then go and tell Desdemona s father, Brabantio that Othello and his daughter are married. This infuriates Brabantio.

Soon after Brabantio sets out after Othello, Iago’s treachery is first displayed. When Othello is confronted, Iago is immediately at his side, which is a little hypocritical because Iago was the person who brought about the whole ordeal.

Act 1-3 is where Iago pieces together his whole sinister plot to get revenge. He first tells Roderigo to sell his lands and move to Cyprus to court Desdemona. The last stanza is where he manifests his “grand scheme”. His idea is to get Othello into thinking Cassio is in love with Desdemona. That way Cassio will be dismissed from lieutenant and Othello will lose Desdemona.

Shakespeare does a very good job in showing what kind of person Iago is right from the beginning of the play. The reader begins to realize this before any of the characters in the play do. I believe he did this so the reader will begin to see how evil Iago is yet how unjustified his reasoning is.

As soon as everyone arrives in Cypress Iago puts his plan in effect. He gets Roderigo (his supposed “friend”) to believe that Cassio and Desdemona are in love. This is a very significant part in showing Iago’s evil. He gets Roderigo who has wronged absolutely no one to develop a hatred for Cassio who just happens to be a victim of circumstance.

Iago’s sinister plan works too. He gets Cassio drunk than has Roderigo provoke a fight. Soon after Cassio stabs a man named Montano. Othello comes out and dismisses Cassio from lieutenancy.

Half of Iago’s “grand scheme” has succeeded. However he still wants to be Lieutenant. He convinces Cassio to arrange a meeting to talk with Desdemona About re-instating him as Lieutenant. Little does Cassio know why Iago really wants him to meet with Desdemona. At the end of this act Cassio says: “I never knew a Florentine more kind and honest.” Shakespeare wrote that line to show how innocent Cassio was and how evil Iago was.

Othello sees Cassio talk with Desdemona and Iago comments on how that is suspicious. He than tells Othello not to feel jealous (which is the exact opposite of what he really wants him to feel). Desdemona also drops a special kerchief given to her by Othello. Othello then confronts Iago because he believes that Iago knows more about Cassio and Desdemona s relationship. He threatens Iago with is life. Quickly Iago comes up with a story about how he heard Cassio talk in his sleep and wipe his beard with the special kerchief. Othello then vows to kill Desdemona. Iago vows to kill Cassio, he is than appointed Lieutenant.

Shakespeare definitely planned this part to effect the audience the most. Without any reason Iago has just caused the demise of 3 people. There is now valid reason why any human would do this. That is why I don’t believe Iago is meant to be an evil character, instead he symbolizes all evil.

To further show Iago’s evilness he gets Roderigo to attempt to kill Cassio. This is where Iago’s plan begins to fade. Othello murders Desdemona, however Cassio never dies. Othello than confronts Iago, finds out what really happened and does him in.

There is a great deal irony in this play. There is also a great contrast between the characters. All the victims are innocent. The cause of all their deaths was by the evil in the play. Iago is the only evil in the play. His characterization is so unlike any one else’s.

Othello, Desdemona, Cassio, Roderigo, and Emilia are all innocent victims. No of them wronged anyone else. There was only one conflict in the whole play Iago. This play has a bizarre plot map as opposed to the standard plot map: problem, rising conflict, climax, and resolution. A single person represents the problem and conflict. The climax could be several things, I believe it is when Othello plots to kill Desdemona. There is no true resolution Iago does get caught but the problems he causes (death) cannot be resolved. He was just meant to embody evil, which can’t be resolved.


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