Iago is one of the most interesting characters in the tragedy “Othello” by William Shakespeare. Through some carefully thought-out words and actions, Iago is able to manipulate others to do things in a way that benefits him and gets him closer to his goals. He is the driving force in this play, pushing Othello and everyone else towards the tragic ending. Iago is not the typical villain in any story or play. The role he plays is unique and complex, far from what one might expect from a villain. Iago is not only very smart, but he is also an expert judge character.
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This gives him a great advantage in the play. 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 355]. By playing on his ambitions, Iago is able to swindle money and jewels from Roderigo, making a substantial profit for himself, while using Roderigo to advance his other goals. Iago can also think very quickly on his feet and is able to improvise whenever something unexpected occurs.
When Cassio takes hold of Desdemona’s hand before the arrival of 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]. His quick thinking and craftiness makes him a truly dastardly villain. Being very smart, Iago is quickly recognizes the advantages of trust and uses it as a tool to forward his purposes. Throughout the story he known as “Honest Iago. ” He even says of himself, “I am an honest man…. ” [Act II, Scene III, Line 245].
Trust is a very powerful thing that Iago easily abuses. Iago is a master of abusing people’s trust to gain more power and further the completion of his goals. His “med’cine works! Thus credulous fools are caught…. ” [pg. 1284, Line 44] Iago 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, the true master of deception.
People rarely stop to consider the possibility that Honest Iago could be deceiving them or manipulating them. Iago makes a complete fool out of Roderigo. In fact, as play starts Iago is taking advantage of Roderigo. Roderigo remarks, “That thou, Iago, who hast had my purse as if the strings were thine. ” [Act I, Scene I, Line 2]. Throughout the play, Iago leads Roderigo by the collar professing that he “hate(s) the Moor” [Act I, Scene III, Line 344] and telling Roderigo to “make money” [Act I, Scene III, Line 339] to give Desdemona gifts to win her over.
During the Iago keeps the gifts that Roderigo purchases for Desdemona for himself. Roderigo eventually begins to question Honest Iago, saying “I think it is scurvy, and begin to find myself fopped in it. ” [Act IV, Scene II, Line 189]. When faced with this accusation, Iago simply offers that killing Cassio will aid his cause and Roderigo blindly falls for it. “I have no great devotion to the deed, and yet he has given me satisfying reason,” [Act V, Scene I, Line 8] says the fool Roderigo.
By doing this, Roderigo is led to his own death by the great Honest Iago. Cassio, like Roderigo, follows Iago blindly, thinking the whole time that Iago is trying to help him. While during the entire play Iago is actually plotting for the demise of his supposed friend Cassio. On the night of Cassio’s watch, Iago convinces him to take just one more drink, knowing very well that it will make him extremely drunk. Cassio just follows along, though he says, “I’ll do’t, but it dislikes me. ” [Act II, Scene III, Line 37].
When Roderigo follows through with the plan Iago has set on him, Cassio is made to look like an irresponsible fool, resulting in the end of his lieutenant days. After this incident, Iago sets another one of his plans to work by telling Cassio to beg Desdemona to help his cause, saying, “she holds it a vice in her goodness not to do more than she is requested. ” [Act II, Scene III, Line 287]. Cassio is then sent down a dark path, which leads to trouble and mischief. Cassio follows it blindly telling Iago, “You advise me well. ” [Act II, Scene III, Line 292].
With this, Cassio led into a trap where Roderigo maims him. Lowly Iago, is capable of anything – not even Othello is safe from this villain. Othello holds Iago to be his close friend and advisor. He believes Iago to be a person, “of exceeding honesty, [who] knows all qualities, with learned spirit of human dealings. ” [Act III, Scene III, Line 257]. Yes, he does know all about human dealings, but no he is not honest. He uses the trust Othello puts in him to turn Othello eventually into a jealous man, looking everywhere for revenge.