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Colderidge described one of Iago's soliloquies as "motive hunting of a motiveless malignity" to what extent do you agree that Iago is motiveless?

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Introduction

Colderidge described one of Iago's soliloquies as "motive hunting of a motiveless malignity" to what extent do you agree that Iago is motiveless? Iago is one of Shakespeare's most complex characters and this remark does point to one aspect of his nature. His persistent need for an audience is so great that he is constantly presenting us with a choice of motives, unconcerned over which one of them is his genuine reason. His motives differ so often from what he portrays them to be, and are often even hidden form himself. There is only one true incentive behind all his motivations, this is his hatred of Othello. This hatred stems from the envy he holds for him. Othello is, and has, everything Iago desires. Othello is bold and courageous; yet is "of constant, loving and noble, nature;" has a beautiful wife who obviously adores him and above all he not only knows how to love but has fallen deeply in love himself. During Elizabethan times, what we today perceive as racism was rife. A black man would not be seen as an equal to a white one and Othello is uniquely privileged not only to hold such a high rank but also to be regard so well in Venice. ...read more.

Middle

It is during this soliloquy that Iago begins to plan for both Cassio's and Othello's downfall "That he is too familiar with his wife", Iago's plan hinges on Othello believing that Desdemona could be unfaithful to him with Cassio. His couplet at the end of the soliloquy highlights his knowledge that his plan is wrong "monstrous birth to the world's light" his use of the adjective monstrous shows that he is aware that his plan is evil and that he doesn't care. In his second soliloquy Iago shows how he can twist what he sees to fit his own purposes "That Cassio loves her I d well believe it;/ that she loves him is apt and of great credit." It also denotes that he too is believing his own lies. Cassio is another person upon whom Iago feels the need to seek revenge. Cassio not only took his job but he "fear[s] Cassio with [his] night cap too." Too compound the issue Cassio is "handsome young and hath all those requisites in him that folly and green minds look after." The mention here of the colour green highlights Iago's jealousy of Cassio. He also states that Cassio "hath a daily beauty in his life that makes me ugly;" To make things terminally worse he "fears Cassio with his night cap too." ...read more.

Conclusion

Even Cassio is not free from suspicion of having slept with Emilia, "For I fear Cassio with my night-cap too." From these motives we can conclude that Iago's aim is to corrupt; and Desdemona's own "goodness" will "make a net/ that shall enmesh them all." It is obvious that Iago is an individualist who relies upon his "will power" rather than his morals. This is verified when Roderigo refers to "virtue" and Iago replies "virtue? A fig! Tis in ourselves that we are thus or thus." He discards outright any notions of fate; (ironically this is a notion that Othello uses to explain his downfall, "who can control his fate?") and he shows this rejection by controlling the plot throughout most of the play. It would be too easy to dismiss Iago as completely motiveless, even though some of his motives are insubstantial when related to his actions. He is, however, consumed by hatred, whether this is related to Othello's race, his social position or his personality, is not made clear. What is clear is that this is Iago's driving force and while he can not be exonerated for his action I feel that he can be admired, if not empathised with, for acting on his feelings, despite the severity of the outcome. ...read more.

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