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Coleridge famously describes the analysis of Iago as "the motive hunting of a motiveless malignity". Using the soliloquies as a starting point, discuss your view of Iago and compare your views with other critics.

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English Literature Kelly - Anne McGurk Coleridge famously describes the analysis of Iago as "the motive hunting of a motiveless malignity". Using the soliloquies as a starting point, discuss your view of Iago and compare your views with other critics. Of all Shakespeare's villainous creations Iago stands out as being the most wickedly stimulating yet most misunderstood character. His apparent lack of motive but somehow effortless flair for causing deliberate cruelty and revelling in the obliteration that he has orchestrated has been widely disputed amongst many literary critics such as the esteemed Samuel Taylor Coleridge, RK.Flatter and Norman Sanders. When faced with the question of whether Iago is actually as motiveless as he seems, the audience begin the search as to why Iago is so cruel. However, the hunt for these motives is almost impossible as Iago tries to convince himself that he is perfectly justified to act as he does. Nonetheless, his 'motives' are merely unsubstantiated figments of his twisted imagination. Throughout Iago's soliloquies a number of potential motives are suggested. Adultery is one of the possible motives. Iago firmly believes that Othello is having an affair with his wife, Emilia. Therefore, Iago may have felt sexual jealousy and contempt that Othello was, in his mind, making a cuckold out of him: "For that I do suspect the lusty Moor Hath leaped into my seat." ...read more.


In my opinion, Iago is not a two-dimensional character but a character who holds many dimensions and levels to his personality. I also believe that he is a tremendously deep character who is hiding something excruciatingly agonising and rooted deep down inside of him that ensures that he is the spiteful and malicious beast that is full of hate for everyone that he is. In addition, RK.Flatter's comment insinuates to me that Iago is an emotionless and spiritual cripple who is totally unable to feel any kind of real, true and raw emotions. This idea seems simply ridiculous to me as throughout the duration of the play Iago confirms that he is an extremely emotional man as he is always full of hatred, spite and malice. In my opinion, these are the darker feelings of emotions but nonetheless they are still emotions that people feel. Therefore, the theory that Iago feels nothing at all is disproved. On the other hand, however, it could be looked upon that Iago has an easily misunderstood feeling towards the positive emotions such as love. It is almost as if Iago struggles with the complexity that accompanies such feelings that, in his mind are futile, time-wasting feelings. In his mind they are purely "permission of the will". In my mind, this is why he feels no guilt in his desire to demolish and obliterate anything that is beautiful and viewed upon as being attractive such as the sensation of love and adoration. ...read more.


This quotation insinuates that Iago is using Desdemona to gain revenge on Othello as he is jealous of her relationship with the man that he is possibly in love with. This reasoning creates a slight feeling of sympathy, within the audience, for Iago as it seems that he is this evil as he cannot accept his sexual feelings and so has to take all his pent up anger and sexual frustration out on the person he loves and others that love him. Redman concurs with these assumptions, his description of Iago reads: "...a repressed homosexual who acts out as he cannot accept his sexual orientation." In conclusion, I believe that the full extent of Iago's entirely complex and utterly confusing psyche will never be wholly understood yet will remain to be unnaturally familiar to audiences worldwide. My inclination is that Iago has no real motives behind his atrocious actions and behaviour. However, I do believe that he has a magnificent and intricate imagination that enables this wicked creature to think up and believe that what he does to others surrounding him is totally tolerable and deserved. The fact that his deeds bring ruin and total destruction to the lives and relationships of the people around him not only excites him but is the source of his fantastical pleasure and unperturbed feeling of gratification. Finally, Iago, in my mind, is one character who will be analysed for many years to come but as before he will never be understood or fully comprehended. ...read more.

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