• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Explore the extent to which Shakespeare's characterisation of Iago and Edmund is influenced by the Machiavellian villain and the Vice figure of medieval morality play. (62 marks)

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

´╗┐Explore the extent to which Shakespeare's characterisation of Iago and Edmund is influenced by the Machiavellian villain and the Vice figure of medieval morality play. (62 marks) Shawda Aziz Both Iago and Edmund possess traits which are both Vice-like and Machiavellian, however Iago leans more towards the Machiavellian figure (but is still strongly Vice-like), as does Edmund but on a lesser level as his motives are clearer than Iago's. Iago has a strong ability to convince other characters of his honesty and loyalty towards them, but the audience are immediately introduced to his intense passion for revenge despite the lack of real reason in seeking so. Iago represents the true form of villainy and is immensely unpleasant throughout the play which is shown to the audience. Edmund is similar to Iago in the fact that he is also seeking revenge and feels like he has been treated unjustly and must get what he thinks he deserves. Both characters aim to climb up the social hierarchy and gain financial superiority by using other characters and they are prepared to hurt the source of this wealth in doing so; this trait is very Machiavel-like. ...read more.

Middle

In Iago's case, Shakespeare does not explicitly say what the motives of Iago are apart from hinting that he is unhappy with Othello for appointing Cassio as Lieutenant and believing that Othello slept with Emilia, his wife. However, these reasons alone do not appear to be the reason why he plots and plans against Othello, suggesting the Iago may actually be purely devilish and evil rather than have ambitions and aims as a Machiavellian figure would. Samuel Taylor Coleridge emphasises this with the famous phrase [2], implying that Iago does not have a motive for his actions but does so purely because he is evil. This contrasts with Edmund because his motives are clear throughout the play, disclosed to the audience in his first soliloquy when he says "Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land: / Our father's love is to the bastard Edmund". This may be almost as compensation of the discrimination he has faced all his life and one way of getting equal with society. Jacobean audiences would have been particularly alive to this as they would have very likely seen illegitimate children as a burden upon society and social outcasts. ...read more.

Conclusion

This makes him Machiavellian as he is willing to do anything to achieve his aims. One would assume that critics of Othello would also agree that Iago is a strong Machiavellian figure, however many assume the view that Iago is in fact a Vice-like figure, as described as a 'demi-devil' by A.C Bradley, and not intelligent or a genius at all. This is suggested by A.C Bradley when asked if he thinks Iago is a Machiavellian villain to which he disagrees and says that[5]. Word Count Page 1 457 Page 2 402 Page 3 444 Page 4 424 Page 5 269 Total: 1996 ________________ [1] "power and pleasure in seeing others suffer, especially those believed to be superior or even invulnerable" [2] "The motive-hunting of motiveless Malignity" [3] "Psychologically, Iago is a slighted man, powerfully possessed by hatred against a master who (as he thinks) has kept him down, and by envy for a man he despises who has been promoted over him" [4] "There is no sign that he is in theory an atheist or even an unbeliever in the received religion. On the contrary, he uses it in language" [5] Iago "cannot be taken to exemplify the popular Elizabethan idea of a disciple of Machiavelli." ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Othello section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Othello essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    How does Iago manipulate different characters in order to achieve his aims?

    3 star(s)

    (II, 3, 291). This seemingly decent piece of advice prompts Cassio to say 'Good night, honest Iago' (II, 3, 302). Cassio sees Iago as a trustworthy, helpful character which is exactly how Iago wants Cassio to view him. Iago also manipulates Emilia in a way.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Discuss how Iago manipulates language to achieve his aims

    3 star(s)

    Daws are carrion birds, scavengers of dead flesh; Iago has created a powerful image of them tearing at his heart. This ablitiy to twist language to convey an obscene or vile meaning is a techinique which Iago often makes use of as can be seen later in the play.

  1. How does Shakespeare present Iago as a tragic villain in Act 1?

    More likely than him feeling hurt by the betrayal of his wife is his sense of self through ownership and possession of Emilia that has been stolen from him. On the other hand, when he stabs Emilia he exclaims 'Villainous whore!'

  2. Free essay

    To what extent is Iago responsible for the downfall of other characters in Othello?

    Therefore Iago has used imagery in two ways to manipulate Othello; to give him something to relate to, making the image more clear and vivid in his head, and also as a "weapon" against him, to make him feel insecure and isolated from the people around him.

  1. In Othello Shakespeare explores the nature of social prejudice. How far does your reading ...

    This unashamed display of deprecation is indicative of misogynistic views that Iago seemingly holds. Some critics actually support this interpretation as Iago is perceived by some in the literary community, to in fact be gay. There is no direct evidence to support this idea, but when, for example, Iago describes

  2. Free essay

    Do you think this is how Shakespeare wanted to portray or present the character?Samuel ...

    sexuality, gender, racial inheritance and social relationships" described by John Russell Brown. Shakespeare wanted the audience to feel a range of emotions towards the depth of different characters and events that had taken place that perhaps assessed society and stereotypes on a whole.

  1. To what extent does Shakespeare present Iago as a tragic villain with no redeeming ...

    Nevertheless the play is clearly symbolic of a struggle between light and dark, as shown in Iago's lines "devils will the blackest sins put on" and his many other references to darkness. There is undoubtedly evidence to suggest Iago as a symbol of wickedness.

  2. Explore how Shakespeare presents Iago as an evil villain

    Iago cleverly manipulates events throughout the entire play, until the end when the villainous character gets his comeuppance and is found out. He is put into a living hell, suggesting the idea that a punishment must fit the crime- the end of his speech will end all manipulation.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work