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Iago In Othello - Critical Analysis.

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Introduction

Iago In Othello - Critical Analysis Shakespeare's Iago is one of Shakespeare's most complex villains. At first glance Iago's character seems to be pure evil. However, such a villain would distract from the impact of the play and would be trite. Shakespeare to add depth to his villain makes him amoral, as opposed to the typical immoral villain. Iago's entire scheme begins when the "ignorant, ill-suited" Cassio is given the position he desired. Iago is consumed with envy and plots to steal the position he feels he most justly deserves. Iago deceives, steals, and kills to gain that position. However, it is not that Iago pushes aside his conscience to commit these acts, but that he lacks conscience to begin with. Iago's amorality can be seen throughout the play and is demonstrated by his actions. For someone to constantly lie and deceive one's wife and friends, one must be extremely evil or, in the case of Iago, amoral. In every scene in which Iago speaks one can point out his deceptive manner. Iago tricks Othello into believing that his own wife is having an affair, without any concrete proof. Othello is so caught up in Iago's lies that he refuses to believe Desdemona when she denies the whole thing. ...read more.

Middle

Coleridge's phrase is often taken to mean that Iago has no real motive and does evil only because he is evil. This is not far from what Coleridge meant, but he almost certainly wasn't using the word "motive" in the same way as it's now used. We use it to mean "an emotion, desire, physiological need, or similar impulse that acts as an incitement to action" ("Motive"). This definition equates "motive" and "impulse"; Coleridge, however, thought the two quite different. He makes this distinction in an entry he wrote for Omniana, a collection of sayings assembled by his friend Robert Southey and published in 1812. Here is what Coleridge wrote: It is a matter of infinite difficulty, but fortunately of comparative indifference, to determine what a man's motive may have been for this or that particular action. Rather seek to learn what his objects in general are! -- What does he habitually wish? habitually pursue? -- and thence deduce his impulses, which are commonly the true efficient causes of men's conduct; and without which the motive itself would not have become a motive. Thus Coleridge asserts that Iago's motives were spawned from his, keen sense of his intellectual superiority and his love of exerting power. ...read more.

Conclusion

A "guinea-hen" is a showy bird with fine feathers or in our sense a 'cunning female'. However, after Roderigo has left, Iago tells us that Roderigo is not entitled to any self-respect, "For I mine own gain'd knowledge should profane, / If I would time expend with such a snipe. / But for my sport and profit" (1.3.384-386). A snipe is a bird notorious for its flightiness and its tendency to run right into traps. Clearly, Iago considers himself vastly superior to Roderigo. Enlivened by such other significant topics as contemporary racism, the uses of verbal and psychological poison, the changing roles of women, the lust for revenge, images of foreignness, the tempest on sea and in Othello's mind, the isolation of an island universe, the reversion to brutish behavior, and the ironic importance of the handkerchief, Shakespeare's play takes us on a geographic and psychological journey into the wilderness of the human heart. If we truly give ourselves over to the mystical experience of theatre, we can become one with Othello-navigating through the landscape of the play, alternately seduced by good and evil-and thereby change the world we live in as it inevitably changes us. ...read more.

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