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Explore how Shakespeare presents Iago as an evil villain

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Explore how Shakespeare presents Iago as an evil villain Shakespeare's villain Iago, within the play Othello is created as one of the most malicious, devilish characters within his works; possibly the worst as his machinations exceed those of many other Shakespearean villains. Iago appears to have very little reason to perform his notoriously villainous acts. His motive and reasoning is his joy of destruction, which seems to magnify into a passion by the final climatic scenes. Destruction is Iago's goal as well as sport. The motives behind his aim for destruction are too petty and minute to be able to make any justification in his attempts to destroy the lives of everyone around him. It is his lack of significant motive that forms him into the true devil. Iago is the evil force behind the plot, leading Othello into a tragic chain of disaster resulting in the murder of his own innocent wife. For all companionship that Iago offers his na�ve fellow characters, he intentionally defies their trust. William Robertson Turnbull, the critic, describes, "Iago is an unbeliever in, and denier of, all things spiritual, who only acknowledges God, like Satan, to defy him." ...read more.


He suggests that he himself is the devil, performing his cunning and masterful scheme behind the mask of 'heavenly shows'. He seems to relish in his manifesting ideas and evil intentions, 'pleasure and action make the hours seem short.' Iago can be compared to a pantomime villain as the omniscient audience watch him twist the outcome, reveal his malicious intentions directly within his soliloquies and relish in an opportunity to accommodate other peoples actions to benefit his own fate, it almost feels appropriate to heckle Iago as he enters the stage. Shakespearean audiences would most likely have done so because his presentation as an evil character is so incontestable. Iago can be seen therefore as the epitome of evil; Shakespeare creates him as a liar, a murderer, selfish, lustful avenger and intellectual puppeteer. His captivation over the other characters ensures that he shall not be found out. Unfortunately before Roderigo, apparently the wisest of the characters by the end, is killed by his hand before he can deliver the truth, 'Here is a letter found in the pocket of the slain Roderigo...Roderigo meant t' have sent this damned villain.' ...read more.


Shakespeare uses strong imagery of hell, 'roast me in sulphur, wash me in steep-down gulfs of liquid fire' to emphasise the transition from a man with cruel intentions and intellectual plotting to a pure demonic character, overtaken with sin and murderous intent. Shakespeare does not allow Othello to kill Iago as proof. Othello says, 'if thou be'st a devil, I cannot kill thee'. The final image upon the stage separates the good from the evil, as the three lay on the bed in tranquil death, and Iago watches them from a forcedly silent sideline, in his own personal hell. Shakespeare does not spare the characters representing heaven and goodness in life because if he did so, the true devil within Iago could not break out and be recognised, therefore there would be no tragedy. Shakespeare takes his character to the next level of villainy, comparing Iago with the ultimate evil: The Devil. Iago is an anti-hero, working alongside those who he is conspiring against. He has a complete lack of morals, which never seem to have been present, even at the outset he is presented as a thief. This absence of conscience creates the frequent associations with the Devil. Shakespeare's thick use of satanic imagery reinforces the extent of his villainy. ...read more.

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