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

Iago is fascinating for his most terrible characteristic: his utter lack of convincing motivation for his actions.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Iago is fascinating for his most terrible characteristic: his utter lack of convincing motivation for his actions. Iago's motivation is nothing more than jealously, self-absorption and hatred, yet his tact is presented in a decidedly and socially acceptable fashion, that is, until his true self is uncovered. In being so wrapped up in himself, Iago's vengeful attitude knows no bounds. His motivation becomes first known to us in the first scene of the play, in which he claims to be angry at Othello for having passed him over for the position of lieutenant. At the end of Act I, scene iii, Iago states that he thinks Othello may have slept with his wife, Emilia: "It is thought abroad that 'twixt my sheets / He has done my office". However none of these claims seems to adequately explain Iago's most deep hatred of Othello, and Iago's lack of convincing motivation or his inability or unwillingness to express his true motivation-makes his actions all the more terrifying and sinister. He is willing to take revenge on anyone, Othello, Desdemona, Cassio, Roderigo, even Emilia, at the slightest provocation and he enjoys damage that he causes. Iago's true power lays in his great talent for understanding and manipulating the desires and insecurities of those around him. ...read more.

Middle

However because of the dramatic irony Iago establishes, the audience is forced into a position of feeling intimately connected with Iago's villainy. In many ways, Iago is the driving force behind the plot; he inspires much of the action of the play. His self-conscious falseness is highly theatrical, manufactured in order to shock the audience. Iago is a classic two-faced villain, a type of character known in Shakespeare's time as a "Machiavel", a villain who lets nothing stand in his way in his quest for power. He is also reminiscent of the stock character of Vice from medieval morality plays, who also announces to the audience his diabolical schemes. As aforementioned Roderigo is certainly a pathetic character, evident by the fact that he does not even succeed in killing Cassio. Unwittingly, Roderigo causes Iago's plan to be disrupted for the first time in the play. Therefore, Iago is forced to bloody his own hands, also for the first time in the play. He displaying a talent for improvisation, Iago takes the burden of action into his own hands because he has no other choice. Neither Lodovico, Graziano, nor Cassio shows the slightest suspicion that Iago is somehow involved in the chaos. ...read more.

Conclusion

Characters in this play seem to be the product of certain inevitable, natural forces, which, if left alone, will grow wild. Iago understands these natural forces very well. According to his own metaphor he is, a good "gardener," both of himself and of others. Many of Iago's references concern poison, "The Moor already changes with my poison. / Dangerous conceits are in their natures poisons..." Iago cultivates his "conceits" so that they become lethal poisons and then plants their seeds in the minds of others. The organic way in which Iago's plots consume the other characters and determine their behaviour makes his conniving, evil personality seem like a force of nature. That organic growth also indicates that the minds of the other characters are fertile ground for Iago's efforts. As well as plants and poison Iago also refers frequently to animals, mostly when describing Othello. Iago calls Othello a "Barbary horse," an "old black ram," and also tells Brabanzio that his daughter and Othello are "making the beast with two backs". Iago tells Othello to beware of jealousy, the "green-eyed monster which doth mock/ the meat it feeds on". The imagery of the monstrous and diabolical takes over where the imagery of animals can go no further, presenting the jealousy-crazed characters not simply as brutish, but as grotesque, deformed, and demonic. Iago is a master at manipulating language and imagery. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Othello section.

Found what you're looking for?

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

Here's what a star student thought of this essay

4 star(s)

Response to the question

This essay superbly responds to the question, given that it doesn't explicitly push much discussion. I liked how the essay explores Iago's apparent changing of motivations throughout. I would like to comment slightly on this task - many candidates at ...

Read full review

Response to the question

This essay superbly responds to the question, given that it doesn't explicitly push much discussion. I liked how the essay explores Iago's apparent changing of motivations throughout. I would like to comment slightly on this task - many candidates at GCSE level may see this question as an opportunity to retell or narrate Iago's character. Although it doesn't ask "To what extent" or "discuss" it is key to analyse and evaluate, and this essay has done so.

Level of analysis

The analysis in this essay is strong, although there are still places for improvement. I liked how quotes were embedded well, allowing a close analysis of language and imagery. The discussion of imagery is particularly strong, reflecting upon the choice of imagery to his manipulation. There is a constant awareness of an audience response, allowing a natural progression to evaluating the dramatic effect of Iago's qualities. I am big fan of any Shakespeare essay which shows understanding that it is a play! However, the weak point of this essay is that lack of focus on Shakespeare's construction. The essay is written as if Iago is real, talking about his choices to manipulate Othello. It is key at any level to show understanding that Shakespeare is constructing Iago and his actions to have a dramatic effect (or otherwise). Doing so would enable this essay to gain higher marks.

Quality of writing

This essay is structured well, having a clear introduction and conclusion. Each paragraphs adds a new point to the argument, and I particularly like how the first sentence is short and concise, offering a clear signpost to what will be elaborated upon. Having such clear signposts allows the essay to stay on focus throughout the paragraph. Spelling, punctuation and grammar are used to emphasise arguments and there are very few flaws in syntax.


Did you find this review helpful? Join our team of reviewers and help other students learn

Reviewed by groat 17/02/2012

Read less
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 GCSE Othello essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Is Iago The Perfect Villain?

    5 star(s)

    On first glance, the line seems as malevolent as ever, Iago calls Othello not by his name, but by his race: Moor. Iago is also commenting on how some "abroad" (possibly referring to when he was away fighting with Othello)

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Give a detailed analysis of Othello's final speech,

    3 star(s)

    This is even more poignant as the film is in black and white. As this speech is the final soliloquy of the play it is very important as it addresses the play and acts as a conclusion. A memorable Shakespearian conclusion is in Romeo and Juliet as a narrator concludes the play.

  1. Peer reviewed

    What is the significance of Iagos Soliloquies in Othello?

    3 star(s)

    Iago emphasises the word 'hate', and this makes the statement more aggressive. Even is this statement was only read, the short sentence makes us able to imagine the way he probably says it and this gives it a huge amount of impact.

  2. Who is responsible for Othello's downfall?

    It can be argued, however, that Othello's jealous nature is not his ultimate tragic flaw, but is his saving grace, as such extremes of emotion as Othello feels are surely to be commended as rarities, the emotional side conquering the rational, logical side of the personality.

  1. How and why does Othello's language change over the course of the Play?

    When Iago threatens to go into a sulk at Othello doubting what he is alleging, Othello stops him from leaving but immediately reveals his indecision "I think my wife be honest, and think she is not; I think that thou are just, and think that thou are not."

  2. Is Othello a 'noble hero' brought down by 'a devil of motiveless malignity' or ...

    I think he does this because of the way Iago can twist a situation to make it sound as if Roderigo would get something good from it but in the end he doesn't. One of the racist names he calls Othello behind his back is Thick-lips .

  1. In Act III Scene III, what techniques and dramatic devices are used by Shakespeare ...

    By this time in the play, Iago has made Othello start to doubt himself and his wife, think that Cassio is a liar and cheat. At this point in time the audience feel frustrated towards Othello and Iago. Othello because he so susceptible to Iago's manipulative ways.

  2. Iago himself offers many explanations for his behaviour during the play, none of them ...

    Thus, Iago's prejudice against Othello would have been a more convincing motive for his actions than for current day audiences. Further subsidiary motives for Iago's actions are suggested by his proclamation of love for Desdemona 'Now I do love her too; Not out of absolute lust, though peradventure I stand

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