18 May 2022


Iago: Obsession and Pleasure

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Academic level: College

Paper type: Essay (Any Type)

Words: 557

Pages: 2

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Othello, Shakespeare’s plot, is mostly tailored from Giraldi Cinthio’s Gli Hecatommithi, a tale of jealousy, betrayal and love. Controversy, the themes, attitudes and characters of the two vary hugely. Othello is used as a major example of the Aristotelian drama. The plot focuses on a small group of characters, and also touches on some of the major issues in Europe at that particular time; the intermixing of the Muslim religion and culture in the West. This paper will seek to analyze Iago’s character in the play. Iago is Othello’s trusted advisor, he is a soldier who has fought alongside Othello of many years. At the opening of the play, Iago is seen to be disappointed for having been passed along for the position of Othello’s lieutenant, which was given to Michael Cassio. Iago, out of anger, plots to manipulate Othello into demoting Cassio, and then brings about Othello’s downfall. From the play, Iago’s character is portrayed to be a villain. He is cunning and has manipulative abilities because he was highly trusted by Othello and he betrayed that will still maintaining his honest and dedicated reputation.

Iago’s and Roderigo’s relationship is portrayed as one of great friendship. The metaphor, lago “hast had (Roderigo’s) purses as if the strings were thine,” shows how much Roderigo trusts Iago and he also uses Iago as a confidant. Iago’s true manipulative character is revealed in the first scene despite the knowledge that, Roderigo sees him as a true friend. Iago’s plot portrays a crucial theme of reality versus appearance. This is through how he seems to trust Roderigo with the information that his real intentions of serving Othello are so as he can achieve his personal goals. Moreover, during the play, Iago plays a series of roles from confidante to advisor and he always made it seem like he was helping others but his intentions were only playing out of his cruel self-interest.

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Iago’s power is drawn from his characteristic idiom, which is very different from the other characters. His language is full of oaths, compounds, colloquialisms, befitting a bluff soldier. Iago moves from verse and prose and his style is adaptive in that it suits his diverse purposes and audiences. Iago is seen as being manipulative for he is able to manipulate others through silence. In act III scene 3he introduces ‘stops’ to irritate Othello. By pretending not to want to speak he gets the opportunity to talk as much as he wants. Iago’s deliberate silence can be seen as a way to continue his power play however it is ironic that Iago is eventually unmasked by his wife, whose silence was taken for granted and Iago never saw it coming since he never took his wife’s power of speech into account. 

Another reason as to why Iago’s audience finds him unpleasant and cruel is his opinion of, and how he treats women throughout the play. He treats his wife in an insulting manner. It could be because he assumes that she had an affair with Othello, however the audience may believe that he did have some other hidden reason for his hatred since he was consistently unpleasant throughout the play. Iago appears to do a lot of character exposition and analysis for his audience. Despite his devious self-flattery, Iago never lets up his schemes, and never seemed to be weary of the damage he caused. This became his downfall too since he was so fixated on causing harm to everyone else that he did not expect to get a similar treatment.

Emilia, Iago’s wife brings to light his treachery after Othello had killed Desdemona, who was innocent of Iago’s charges. And out of rage, Iago ends up killing his wife, this got him arrested. And Cassio who was left in charge after Othello’s suicide, condemns him to be tortured and imprisoned as punishments for his crimes. 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 16). Iago: Obsession and Pleasure.


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