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

"Iago is the cunning villain of the play Othello; he cleverly manipulates the characters in order to achieve his aims. Discuss Shakespeare's portrayal of Iago and the audience's response to the characters."

Extracts from this document...


"Iago is the cunning villain of the play Othello; he cleverly manipulates the characters in order to achieve his aims. Discuss Shakespeare's portrayal of Iago and the audience's response to the characters." Iago is one of the most complex and interesting characters in this play. He is in the Venetian army and is General Othello's trusted aide. He is married to Emilia, who is Desdemona's' (Othello's' wife) care taker. Iago is well acquainted with Othello, Rodrigo Cassio and Desdemona, and hence all these puppets are infected by his evil manipulations. Iago uses several linguistic and psychological techniques to achieve his ends. Now I shall discuss Shakespeare's portrayal of Iago, his manipulating techniques, and how the audiences respond to his portrayal. The time, in which this play is set in, the Venetian society is racist against coloured people. The role of women of Desdemona's status was not equal to that of the men. They were the properties of their fathers, to be sold into marriage, and interracial relationships were considered disrespect to the family. They were meant to be innocent virginal, saintly souls. Many themes are introduced into the play Othello, which mostly compare the contrasts in life. There is Darkness and Reality, Appearance and reality, Love jealousy and hatred. ...read more.


We can see by this that Iago is using these racist words to make other characters hate Othello, which is very cunning, because it brings down his reputation as an honest and noble man. Also the audience would have probably shared these prejudiced thoughts by Iago, and hence approved of the villain, which is rare for Shakespeare's range of stories, where he usually makes the hero approved by the audience. Iago is an expert judge of character, which gives him an advantage. One example where he utilizes this example is with Roderigo where he knows how madly in love he is for Desdemona, and acts as if he is helping her in making Desdemona his, when he is actually fooling him into giving him money for a job he is not doing. Cunningly Iago says even says that 'thus do I ever make my fool my purse' where Roderigo is the fool, and by manipulating this fool he is making money to add to his purse. Iago is portrayed by Shakespeare as an opportunist. One example would be when Cassio is asking for Desdemona's help for reuniting him with Othello, but then when Iago and Othello come, he walks off to avoid confrontation. Iago, knowing Othello's greatest weakness to be Desdemona. ...read more.


Hence he persuaded him into drinking, and making him get into a fight, which led him to be fired from his position by Othello. Not only does Iago disgrace Cassio, he also tells Cassio to go to Desdemona to solve his problem, and that she will help because she has a good heart: 'she holds it a vice in her goodness not to be more than a requested' Iago later turns the encounter into what seems as a secret affair between Desdemona and Cassio, which does not please Othello at all. In conclusion Iago is portrayed by Shakespeare as an extremely cunning, jealous, subtle, sadistic racist, motiveless and manipulative devil-like human being. Who jumps at the opportunity to use anything to help him reach his goals, which in to destroy Othello, his relationships, and the friends who surround him. Iago symbolizes evil in everyway, though not the typical evil of brute anarchical strength, but the tactful evil which is much more productive with its method, to psychologically destroy a person through preying on their weaknesses. The audience's response to this portrayal ranges from interest, awe, shame and disgust. Iago interests the audience with his plans and how he implements them, he awes the audience with the magic like power he has to manipulate characters to their own destructions, and Iago disgusts the audience by how he revels in his destructive plans, and the anarchy he implements. ...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

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)

    This is proved in perfect fashion in the last scene of the play, where Othello and the guards confront Iago. When pushed for a reason for destroying the lives of so many people, Iago simply says: "Demand me nothing. What you know, you know.

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

    and cares about people (II, i). Iago uses this kindness to his full advantage to make it appear that Desdemona is in love with, and sleeping with, Cassio. Iago plants the seeds of doubt within Othello's mind, but it is Desdemona that encourages the growth of the seeds.

  1. Othello has been called a ‘domestic tragedy’. What part do the three women play ...

    Othello is similar to this, he idealises Desdemona, showing little understanding of her as a person. As Leavis says, Othello has a "preoccupation with his emotions rather than with Desdemona in her own right." The three men, Othello, Iago and Cassio, all have a typically male profession, that of a soldier.

  2. How Does Iago Successfully Manipulate Othello in Shakespeare

    a blade and kills himself, bringing an end to the tragedy as he, Desdemona and Emilia lie dead on the bed. Throughout the play it is evident that Iago lies cheats and steals in relation to his friends, loved ones and enemies alike in order for him to fulfil his vengeance on Othello.

  1. Why does Iago destroy the other characters in the play?

    Iago is extremely jealous of Cassio too. He mentions that Cassio is 'a proper man' which hints that Iago is envious of his looks and luck with women. At the beginning of the play, Iago tells Roderigo 'three great ones of the city, in personal suit to make me his

  2. How does Othello's character change from the beginning of the play to the end ...

    in a weary, defeated tone, with clear signs of worry on his face; this would show Desdemona is quite a commanding person, and in charge of their marriage, and also that Othello is clearly worried about his marriage and Desdemona's alleged infidelity.

  1. In Shakespeares play Othello the Moor of Venice, Shakespeare cleverly uses the character known ...

    By itself it would not be very manipulative to give such advice, but Iago tells Roderigo that HE will personally deliver the gifts. Iago, being the manipualative character that he is, embezzles the funds for his own benefit. When Roderigo confronts Iago about stealing the money, Iago gives Roderigo a long speech and ultimately convinces Roderigo to kill Cassio.

  2. What Destroys Othello

    This is a sign of jealously for Iago because he wanted a promotion of Othello's lieutenant but Cassio got the job. Iago give the impression that jealousy would affect him in an evil way.' It is my nature's plague to spy into abuses, and oft my jealousy shapes faults that are not'.

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