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Iago's Soliloquies display 'the Motive Hunting of a Motiveless Malignity.'(Coleridge) Why does Iago behave as he does?

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Alex Richmond 4H Iago's Soliloquies display 'the Motive Hunting of a Motiveless Malignity.'(Coleridge) Why does Iago behave as he does? The quotation by Coleridge describes Iago's soliloquies as having 'the motive hunting of a motiveless malignity'. Coleridge has interpreted Iago using soliloquies in an attempt to justify his actions throughout the book, and that not only his actions have 'motiveless malignity' but in fact he is a 'motiveless malignity', in other words he is doing these terrible things to the other characters, influencing them against each other and eventually making them destroy each other. Coleridge is saying that Iago has no motive for these things and is doing them for the sole reason he is evil and enjoys the suffering he causes. According to Coleridge Iago is using these speeches aimed at the audience only to reassure himself and persuade the audience that what he is doing is revenge for things done to him. In the beginning of the book it appears that the only motive for Iago's acts are strong racism against Othello. For example he constantly refers to him as "the Moor" like in act one scene one line 33, "his Moorship's" this is the first example of Iago's obsession with race and colour and it continues in I.i.67 when Iago says "the thick lips" and again in I.i.89 when Iago calls Othello "an old black ram". ...read more.


The way he plays out his plan, using manipulation and deception for example in II.iii.39 Iago suggests to Othello that the way Cassio leaves is suspicious not actually accusing Cassio, but merely planting the seeds of suspicion in Othello's mind to what may be happening between Cassio and Desdemona, even though there is not. From this point onwards Othello begins to suspect Cassio and believe that Desdemona may be dishonest, which eventually leads to the death of Othello, Desdemona, Emilia, Roderigo and the injuring of Cassio. Another example of Iago's deadly manipulation is in III.iii.167 when Iago says "O beware, my lord, of jealousy: It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on. Also in Othello (III.iii.1) Iago arranges for Desdemona and Cassio to meet and talk about each others problems. Desdemona then agrees that she will talk to Othello about forgiving Cassio, this only adding to Othello's suspicions. It's the way Iago uses all the characters in his plan and they all play some part in each others demise, this behaviour can be considered evil. Iago also refers to his behaviour as his "sport" showing that he finds twisting people into self destruction and corrupting them and turning them against each other his sport, like a game to him. ...read more.


I believe this shows that he is not pure evil, but just got carried away with his plan. I think that by deciding others fates and manipulating them, Iago got a kick out of it. In conclusion to the question, Iago's behaviour is based on his love of controlling people and the rush he probably got out of it, however after a while his manipulation of characters, deception and ability to control the fate of those involved in his plot twisted him into something he is not, and then he began to believe he could not get caught. Iago was as Coleridge said, "a motiveless malignity", he had no true motive apart from the fictional ones created by Iago so he could continue on his evil plan without expressing guilt or doubt. And when the plot reached its climax at the end, Iago was so sure of his superiority and ability to manipulate, that when it seemed he was going to be caught he panicked and acted irrationally killing his wife, which only made him look more evil. However I believe he got a taste for power, became addicted, and eventually he got caught. And when he got caught he had the chance to see what he had done and wished to make amends by punishing himself. ...read more.

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