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Iago has been described as the most malevolent character in EnglishLiterature. Discuss your response to him andthe part he plays in Othello’s downfall in the light of this statement.

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Jason Goodwill 11P English Coursework: Othello Question 1: Iago has been described as the most malevolent character in English Literature. Discuss your response to him and the part he plays in Othello's downfall in the light of this statement. A malevolent character wishes harm without motive and I believe that Iago's actions against Othello are the major cause of the Moor's downfall. Iago has many reasons for acting the way he does, his reasons may not be or logical but he believes in them so strongly that he is willing to kill and destroy peoples lives in the process of completing them. His entire motives stem from one thing, jealousy, all of Iago's actions are due to this single feeling. His revenge comes from wanting to overthrow the people he is jealous of. He is jealous of both Othello and Cassio. He is jealous of Othello because he is a black and has a high position in the army when a white man should because they are better, in Iago's view. Due to the lifestyle of people at the time this play is set this seems to be an acceptable view and Iago seems to have a right to feel the way he does. However, his actions which stem from this aren't acceptable and are going too far. He is also jealous of Cassio because he was made lieutenant ahead of Iago. Iago believes he should have been promoted because he has far more battle experience. He seems to elaborate on these initial ideas and ends up been suspicious of every one for doing the most unlikely things, one of which is sleeping with his wife. This fuels his hatred and he wants more and more revenge. In his quest for revenge he uses Roderigo to get money, which he does by saying he will help Roderigo get closer to Desdemona for a fee. ...read more.


Due to the complexity of Iago's character it is very hard to understand him and get inside his made (see things the way he does). The use of the soliloquy helps the audience to understand Iago and his way of thinking but it still remains hard to fully understand this complex character. Iago seems to have reason to want revenge for Othello over looking him for promotion and giving it to Cassio instead. This is because Iago has lots battle experience and Cassio has none. Therefore, I can see why Iago was angry because it seems to him that he had worked a lot harder than Cassio and so deserved promotion more. This seems to be the starting point from which Iago concocts other stories so that he can have more reason in his own mind for further inflicting his hatred upon Othello. At times it seems as though Iago is searching for reasons that he can hurt Othello for, regardless of whether they are real or not. The main example of this is when Iago says that Othello has "leapt into his seat". By this Iago is saying that he believes Othello has slept with his wife, Emilia. This hasn't actually happened but Iago believes it and his hatred towards Othello grows even more. Iago's jealousy is also for Cassio and this is because he feels he should have been promoted to Lieutenant ahead of Cassio. Iago is almost 'fixated' on getting revenge for this and creates a plan to get Cassio in trouble so Othello will replace him with Iago. Iago persuaded Cassio to have a glass of wine when he was on guard and before long he was drunk. Iago then got him into a fight and the noise created from the people there woke Othello up. He was outraged with Cassio's behaviour and removed from his position with Iago replacing him. ...read more.


The fact that he also tries to ruin Cassio's life as well as Othello's shows he is just plain evil. I also think that Iago enjoys ruining people's lives and gives kind of a 'buzz'. This further emphasises how evil he actually is. Iago can be likened to a chameleon because he changes when he is in different environments and seems to fool all the other characters with none of them having a clue what he is actually up to. When he is with Othello he acts very friendly and honestly but when he is not with him he is scheming and becomes mad with jealousy being intent on planning ways to hurt Othello. This again shows Iago's evil nature and these actions are the basis for Othello's downfall. This play shows how someone can become obsessed with something so much that they can kill people without thinking twice. Iago did this with his wife when he stabbed her to escape once he had been found out. Iago achieved his original aims and had got even with Othello and Cassio by making it look as though Cassio and Desdemona were having an affair behind Othello's back. This made Othello hate Cassio and made it easier for Iago. It also drove Othello over the edge and Iago got what he wanted. He still hated them so much that he exploited them further and this led to Othello's death. We never like Iago but he is a fascinating character because to the audience he is so openly villainous and we can see how he is a 'puppet master' figure behind a likeable but fallible character, Othello. Iago knows exactly which 'strings to pull' in order to get at Othello. I have come to the conclusion that Iago had motives but he developed them and he became obsessed with destroying Othello's life. He was too cunning for his own good and tried to do too much to gain what he wanted. ...read more.

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