character Analysis of Iago in “Othello”


Shakespeare’s “Othello, The Moor of Venice” is a play of deception and trickery. There are several important characters, however there is one who is particularly interesting. Iago (a villain) is perhaps one of the most interesting characters. Iago is a dynamic character that takes on several roles. He is known as an honest trustworthy friend but is actually a manipulative deceptive snake that is only looking out for his own interests. Iago is able to manipulate others into do things that only benefit him. He is the main driving force in this play, pushing Othello and others towards their tragic end.


Iago is not your ordinary villain. The role he plays is rather unique and complex. Iago is smart and is an excellent judge characters and he uses this to his advantage. For example, he knows Roderigo is in love with Desdemona and figures that he would do just about anything to have her. Iago says about Roderigo, "Thus do I ever make my fool my purse." [Act I, Scene III, Line 362] By playing on his hopes of getting Desdemona, Iago is able to con money and jewels from Roderigo, making himself a substantial profit. Iago is a quick thinker and is able to improvise whenever something unexpected happens. 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 164] Because he is so cunning and crafty he is truly a dastardly villain.


Due to his intelligence, Iago is quick to recognize the advantages that trust creates and uses it as a tool to manipulate and accomplish his goals. Throughout the play he is commonly known as, "Honest Iago." He even says of himself, "I am an honest man...." [Act II, Scene III, Line 239] Trust is a very powerful emotion that is easily abused and Iago is one that was able to manipulate people’s trust. Iago is a master of turning people\'s trust into tools that he can use against them in order to achieve his own goals. Iago manipulates people\'s thoughts, and creates ideas in their heads and is able to do all this 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 289] says Iago. Thus, people rarely stop to consider the possibility that Iago could be deceiving or manipulating them, after all, he is "Honest Iago."


Iago makes a fool out of Roderigo. In fact, the play starts out with Iago having taken advantage of him already. 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 to believe that he "hate(s) the Moor" [Act I, Scene III, Line 348] and telling Roderigo to "make money" [Act I, Scene III, Line 352] so that he can buy gifts to give to Desdemona in hopes to win her over. During the play however, Iago is keeping the gifts that Roderigo intends for Desdemona for himself. Roderigo eventually starts to question Iago\'s honesty, saying "I think it is scurvy, and begin to find myself fopped in it." [Act IV, Scene II, Line 198] When faced with this allegation, Iago simply tells Roderigo that killing Cassio will aid his cause and Roderigo believes him. "I have no great devotion to the deed, and yet he has given me satisfying reason," [Act V, Scene I, Line 8] says Roderigo. And because of this action, Roderigo is lead to his death by the hands of "Honest Iago."


Cassio, like Roderigo, follows Iago, thinking that Iago is only trying to be a friend and help him. However, during this time, Iago is planning the termination of Cassio. On the night of Cassio\'s watch, Iago persuades him to take another drink, knowing very well that he would become very drunk. Cassio follows along anyway, though he says, "I\'ll do\'t, but it dislikes me." [Act II, Scene III, Line 36] However, Iago is able to make him defy his own reasoning and