In the play Othello, by Shakespeare, the character Iago is perceived to be a sinister and wicked individual to readers who have just read the novel. If people give more thought to Iago’s character and the actions that he took in order to attain the things that he wanted, then they can find some admirable traits in him. There is not one character in the novel that is entirely good or entirely bad. Each character is complex in his/her own way. After reading this Shakespearean work of art, I found that if the reader wanted to find fault in everybody then they could. Does this make the characters villains?
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Maybe it makes the characters individuals who are subject to certain emotions and problems that up rise and occur during the struggle for power. From the start of this play, friction between characters was prevalent. What’s a Shakespearean play without conflict of characters? In Act One of Scene One, Othello angered both Iago and Roderigo when a promotion was given to Cassio. In line nine of Act One, Scene One, Iago says, “In personal suit to make me his lieutenant, Off-capp’d to him. ” Iago wanted and even pleaded lieutenancy. When the reader learns of that, then the play starts to unfold.
From this point on, Iago holds on to his anger and does several things to get back at Othello and everybody who is around him. In lines 36-38 of the same act and scene, Iago states “preferment goes by letter and affection, and not by old gradation, where each second stood heir to the first. ” By saying that, Iago showed that he took Othello’s promotion to another person extremely offensive. Iago brushed the insult off of his shoulders and posed as if he had forgotten about it. He stated, “We cannot all be masters, nor all masters cannot be truly follow’d” (Act One, Scene One, Lines 44-45).
A master was what Iago was determined to be. Iago was the character in the play that held the trust of an abundance of characters. How worthy of the trust was he though? He played games with everybodys emotions. To a certain extent, the people who put trust into him are at fault also. Iago seldom told people things directly. He spoke of things happening in his dreams or assumptions that he made. By doing this he put jealousy, envy, and hate, among several other feelings, in the hears of many people. He kept himself close to many individual’s ears.
In order so that he would not have the same things done to him, he states that he will not “Wear my heart upon my sleeve/For daws to peck at. ” (Act One, Scene One, Lines 66-67) In Iago’s soliloquy, in Act One, Scene Three, he displays an intricate plot to lead to Othello’s downfall. Also shown, is the fact that Iago did not trust his wife either. Another reason to bring about the downfall of Othello was that he thought that his wife, Emilia, was cheating. Iago thought that Othello also took his position as a lover. His soliloquy is shown below.
Thus do I ever make my fool my purse; For I mine own gain’d knowledge should profane If I would time expend with such a snipe But for my sport and profit. I hate the Moor; and it is thought abroad that ‘twixt my sheets He has done my office. I know not if’t be true; But for mere suspicion in that kind, Will do as if for surety. He holds me well; the better shall on my purpose work on him. Cassio’s a proper man. Let me see now: To get his place, and to plume up my will in double knavery – How, how? — Let’s see. After some time, to abuse Othello’s ear that he is too familiar with his wife.
He hath a person and a smooth dispose to be suspected – framed to make women false. The Moor is of a free and open nature That thinks men honest that but seem to be so, And will as tenderly be led by the nose As asses are. I have’t! It is engerder’d! Hell and night must bring this monstrous birth to the world’s light. ” As a reader, I learn abundance about Iago. He displays that he understands human nature and the weaknesses of people. He probes into the souls and emotions of his adversaries, finds their weaknesses and faults, and attacks them. He is more cunning and strategic because he allows the characters to cause their own downfall.
He unveils his plot against Othello in this excerpt of the play. Iago primarily wanted to cause the downfall of those two men but in the end of the play feelings of melancholy filled the hearts of mostly all of the people that he came in contact with in the play. Iago also feels that Cassio has coveted his wife. In Act One, Scene Two, Line 327, he says “For I fear Michael Cassio with my nightcap too. ” This is means for Iago to bring about the downfall of Cassio, also. Iago does not like people to take what he already has or take what he deserves. He is power hungry and will do anything to attain it.
He is determined and focused. In Act Two, Scene One, a storm causes the threat of the Turkish fleets to be diminished. This called for a celebration among Othello’s town. Iago plans to cause Cassio to drink because he knows that that is a weakness of Cassio. After Cassio drinks, he begins to fight with Roderigo and Montano. Othello became so angered that he fires Cassio. Cassio is ashamed and knows that he made a mistake. He goes to Iago for advice on how to win back Othello’s trust. Iago tells him to go to Desdemona to help him restore his position. This would ultimately cause jealousy in Othello’s heart.
Iago only planned for short-term goals. He knows what his ultimate goal is to be but he is not concerned with how anything affects others. The consequences of his actions are truly irrelevant and unimportant at this time, so long as he attains revenge against Othello for not providing the position that he desired. I think that Iago executed the most intricate plan in Act Three, Scene Three. Iago forms and is the master of a jealous rage that consumed Othello. He planted a seed of distrust in Othello while remaining “honest” (Act Two Scene One, Line 220). First Iago starts saying something and then stops.
Othello, in line 183 of Act Three, Scene Three says, “By heaven, I’ll know thy thoughts”. In line 187, of the same act and scene, Iago forewarns Othello by saying “O, beware my lord, of jealousy. ” “Look to your wife. Observe her well with Cassio,” he goes on to say in line 220. He displayed concern in the whole scene. A display of his concern was in lines 243-244. Iago said “I hope you will consider what is spoke comes from my love. ” Othello was basically dumbfounded. Iago then goes on to describe the women of his land. As a foreigner, he assumes that Iago knows more about this land.
In Act Three, Scene Three, Lines 225-228 Iago says, “In Venice they do let heaven see the pranks they dare not show their husbands; their best conscience Is not to leave’t undone, but keep’t unknown”. Desdemona would do everything in her power to hide her infidelity even if she was unfaithful. The only thing was that all of this was based on assumptions. No proof was provided for Othello. In Act Two, Scene Three, Lines 398-399 Othello demands proof by stating “Villain, be sure thou prove my love a whore! Be sure of it. Give me the ocular proof… Confusion fills Othello’s soul.
I think my wife be honest, and think she is not. I think that thou art just, and think thou are not. ” (lines 426-427) He was not a very emotional person. He was a physical person. He thought of mostly everything in a military sense. This was an emotional battle that he had to face. This was a difficult thing for him and that’s precisely why Iago took he wanted to take advantage of that. In Act Three, Scene Three Emilia gives Desdemonas scarf that was the first present that Othello gave to her, to Iago. “I am glad I have found this napkin. This was her first remembrance from the Moor” is what Emilia said in lines 323-333.
This “napkin” was to be Othello’s “ocular proof”. Iago thought of a way to get around having to provide sound and solid proof. In an excerpt in Act Three, Scene Three, Lines 463, Iago tells Othello the following: “In sleep I heard him say, ‘Sweet Desdemona, Let us be wary, let us hide out loves! ‘ And then, sir, would he gripe and wring my hand, Cry ‘O sweet creature! ‘ and then kiss me hard, As if he pluck’d up kisses by the roots That grew upon my lips; then laid his leg Over my thigh, and sigh’d and kiss’d, and then Cried “Cursed fate that gave thee to the Moor! ”
Iago did not lie but he did not provide Iago with the sound, solid, undeniable, ocular proof. Iago merely provided Othello of a dream. There is a world of difference between dreams and reality. This was obvious to both Othello and Iago but in lines 475-476 Iago said “… this may help to thicken other proofs that do demonstrate thinly. He went into saying how Desdemona might still be honest but he once again filled Othello’s head with doubt by saying in lines 483-485 “… But such a handkerchief (I am sure it was your wife’s) did I today See Cassio wipe his beard with.
Iago did his job of filling Othello’s heart with the intent of getting revenge against Cassio. In lines 522-523, Othello said, “Within these three days let me hear thee say That Cassio’s not alive. ” In this scene a handkerchief that would normally be almost insignificant. The characters in this book find importance in that handkerchief. It became significant to all characters in some way. I think that the significance of the handkerchief was exaggerated. In lines 61-75, the origin of the handkerchief is described to Desdemona. Othello, in this excerpt says: “That’s a fault.
That handkerchief did an Egyptian to my mother give She was a charmer, and could almost read the thoughts of people. She told her, while she kept it ‘Would make her amiable and subdue my father Entirely to her love; but if she lost it Or made a gift of it, my father’s eye Should hold her loathed and his spirits should hunt After new fancies. She, dying, gave it me, and bid me, when my fate would have me wive to give it to her. I did so, and take heed on’t. Make it a darling like your precious eye. To lose’t or give’t away were such perdition As nothing else could match. ”
I think that if the handkerchief actually held that much importance to it, Othello would have explained that to Desdimonda while he was giving it to her or before he even gave it to her. The actual insignificance of this item creates more of a tragedy in the end. In lines 155-169, Desdemona tries to deny the fact that her husband is mad at her. She says the following: “Something of the state, Either from Venice some unhatch’d practice Hath puddled his clear spirit; and in such cases Men’s natures wrangle with inferior things, Though great ones are their object. ‘Tis even so.
For let our finger ache, and it endues Our other healthful members even to that sense Of pain. Nay, we must think men are not gods, Nor of them look for such ovservency As fits the bridal. Beshrew me much, Emilia, I was! (unhandsome warrior as I am! ) Arraigning his unkindness with my soul; But now I find I had suborn’d the witness, And he’s indicted falsely. Desdemona is naive to a certain extent about certain things. This is one of those times. She could not possibly see why her husband was furious at her. If the communication between Desdemona and Othello was better, then this whole thing would not be an issue.
I think Shakesphere wrote this out like that so that his readers could learn a lesson from that. The plot of the story continues to move along in Act Four, Scene One. Iago continues to cause chaos and jealousy in Othello’s heart and mind by saying telling him that he overheard Cassio saying that he seduced Desdemona. Othello then caught an epileptic fit. Iago even to a certain extent had power over Othello’s body and that was an example. Iago is the master of creating situations that look differently then they really are. In Act Four, Scene One, he manipulates a situation and in lines 190-193 then says: “Yours, by this hand!
And to see how he prizes the foolish woman your wife! She gave it him, and he hath given it his whore. ” Othello’s rage is shown in the following excerpt in lines 196-198 in Act Four, Scene One which said: Aye, let her rot, and perish, and be damned tonight, for she shall not live. No, my heart is turned to stone. I strike it, and it hurts my hand. ” Another example of the sense of hopeless uncontrollable rage that filled the now savage Othello can be found in Act Four, Scene One, lines 215. It reads “I will chop her into messes! Cuckold me! ” Revenge had to belong to Othello.
When he spoke in lines 219-221, he said “Get me some poison, Iago, this night. I’ll not expostulate with her, lest her body and beauty unprovide my mind again. This night, Iago. ” In my opinion, Iago denies Othello the poison to kill Desdemona because Iago feels that if she is killed, then he will be more at fault. He did not want to provide the means to kill Desdemona with. Later on if somebody asked who provided the tool of murder, then I suppose Iago did not want his name to be bought up. That is why in lines 222-223 Iago says “Do it now with poison.
Strangle her in her bed, even the same bed she hath contaminated. ” This idea fancied Othello, so now, Iago just had to sit back and watch everybody around him make fools of themselves. He just filled everybody with the emotions that would cause them to hurt each other in various manners. I think that this play took place on an island because everybody was emotionally insecure. If this was not the case then, the things that occurred later on in this play would not have happened at all. If communication between everybody was good, then this whole play would have unfolded in a different manner.
All of the negative emotions that Othello felt was based on hearsay. Iago never provided that “ocular proof”. Desdemona did not have any idea of why her lord struck her in Act Four, Scene One. She also had no idea as to why her mere presense annoyed the man that she loved, her husband. In the next scene, Othello questioned Emilia about Desdemona. His overall purpose of this whole questioning was to see if he could find out if Emilia knew anything suspicious about Desdemona and Cassio. Later on when Iago asked what was the matter with Desdemona then she told him about how her lord slandered her.
She could not find an explanation for Othello’s actions but did say the following in lines 149-152 of Act Four, Scene Two:I will be hang’d if some eternal villain, Some busy and insinuating rogue, Some cogging, cozening slave, to get some office, Have not devised this slander. I’ll be hang’d else. ” In Act Four, Scene Two, Roderigo goes on to somewhat threaten Iago with exposure. I think that he is the one who closest notices that Iago is more of a man of actions when it comes to dealing with people. He realizes that the words that Iago tells people are not necessarily what he does.
Iago seemed uneffected by this so Roderigo figured that he would not expose Iago right away. The night that was to come bought death and sorrow to many. Iago was able to take advantage of everything that he could possibly take advantage of. He especially took advantage of the time of night and the darkness that filled the sky, the confusion of everybody in the play during that scene, and the fact that Cassio’s little friend, Bianca came in after the deaths occurred. I think that Iago could care less if Roderigo and Cassio lived. Roderigo attacked Cassio and then stabbed Roderigo to death after Othello saw what happened.
Othello walked in at the perfect time because he assumed that Iago kept his promise. This was on of the reasons why Othello found Iago to be trustworthy. Iago realizes the power of that night. In lines 138-139, in Scene 1 of Act 5, he says “This is the night that either makes me or fordoes me… “. Now in Act Five, Scene Two everything that was building up in the play, takes place. Othello kills Desdemona even though Desdemona tells her “lord” that she has not been unfaithful. Then when Emilia goes to inform Othello of the death that has already taken place that night, she finds out that her friend Desdemona has been killed.
Emilia knows that Desdemona was not worthy of the fate that she had. Othello tells her that her husband knew of Desdimona’s affair. Emilia is dumbfounded and confesses the fact that she gave the handkerchief to her husband. Iago then stabs her for being disloyal. Once Iago stabs his wife, his heart caves in. Othello realized that his wife was in fact pure and that Iago only wanted downfall for Othello. Iago runs away only to be returned in a few lines later. Othello feels that to live with the things that he has done would simply be torture so he committed suicide.
I think that the only reason that he did not kill Iago before he died is because it is harder to live with pain. If you are dead then you cannot be burdened with the emotional pain that you have caused. Iago got what he wanted. His last words in the play were “Demand me nothing. What you know, you know. From this time forth I never will speak word. ” Nobody was emotionally close to Iago. That is one of the reasons why nobody understood why he did the things that he did. Everybody thought that he was evil but sometimes things occur in life because of our own weaknesses. Iago was simply a man who wanted the best for himself.
He was emotionally insecure but evil? No. I think that the main reason why I believe this to be true is because I, myself do not allow myself to be open to many individuals emotionally. In history class I leared something that relates to this. Machiavelli said “Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are”. Nobody understood Iago and that is the reason why they think that he was evil. Iago was simply emotionally insecure, determined, headstrong, persistant, and trustworthy to people. Everybody saw that. Nobody really knew. That is the reason why Iago is not the villain in this play.