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Lealands High School

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Introduction

LEALANDS HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH/ENGLISH LITERATURE GCSE STUDY OF SHAKESPEARE How does Shakespeare's character, Iago, conform to the literary tradition of the villain? In this essay I am going to say whether I think Shakespeare's character Iago conforms to the literary tradition of a villain. The Collins Plain English Dictionary defines a villain: "You can call someone the villain or the villain of the peace when they are seen as the cause of all the trouble in a situation". These definitions are certainly true of most literary villains. From a young age children are taught the difference between right and wrong, good and evil. Many fairy tales and young children's stories include heroes (or heroines) trying to defeat and overcome the evil embodied by the villain of the story. Many stories include either a beautiful heroine or strong, athletic hero, all of whom make the villain exceedingly jealous. For instance in Cinderella, her stepmother is resentful because Cinderella's physical and inner beauty is superior to those of her own daughters. Jealousy is the main drive for any literary villain. Even in fairy tales such as Snow White the evil queen is jealous of the fact that Snow White is so beautiful. Jealousy is probably the most common and supreme trait of villainy. Every villainous character has some source of jealousy and normally they have an ambitious streak. Famous literary villains such as Macbeth have a great and growing ambition. ...read more.

Middle

Knowing that she is speaking of him, Iago abruptly reacts "Fie, there is no such man : it is impossible." Iago's ability to say the right thing at the right time is what makes him so successful. An alternative interpretation of Iago's reasons for wanting to destroy Othello is that Iago is homosexual and is in love with Othello. As evidence for this interpretation there is Iago's wife Emilia, who is portrayed as being quite masculine. He also shows a lack of respect and love for her, which could be seen as ignorance towards her (because of his love for Othello). He also shows his infamous trait of jealousy, however this time towards Desdemona and Othello's perpetual love. It is obvious to Iago that Othello is in love with Desdemona, and therefore cannot love him. Also when Iago is explaining Desdemona's infidelity, he reassures his honesty by saying to Othello, "My Lord, you know I love you." The last indication that Iago has homoerotic tendencies is his account of Cassio's dreaming. "would he gripe and wring my hand, Cry 'O sweet creature!' and then kiss me hard, As if he pluck'd up kisses by the roots That grew upon my lips: then laid his leg Over my thigh, and sigh'd, and kiss'd" The way he descriptively explains this fictional occurrence, it is believable that he has felt these fantasies about other men. However, this is an interpretation, which Shakespeare provides as to make Iago a complex character to understand. ...read more.

Conclusion

She had done nothing wrong and, remarkably, Iago showed no sign of remorse not even in any soliloquy, which seems to show that Iago has no conscience. Iago manages to steal from his friends without the feeling of guilt. He also has little mercy of the lives of Roderigo, Desdemona or even his own wife Emilia. He has no guilty conscience over his actions and in some ways tries to make the situation worse. This can be seen when Othello is explaining that he will poison Desdemona for cuckolding him, and Iago suggests, "Do it not with poison, strangle her in her bed, Even the bed she hath contaminated." When he knows very well Desdemona is innocent and shows no remorse. In my opinion I would say that Iago does not conform to the tradition of literary villains. This is because I believe villains are immoral. They all seem to know what they're doing is wrong, yet are still content to destroy the hero or heroine. I consider Iago as being amoral. He doesn't seem to realise what he's doing is unethical and that he is destroying the lives of all those around him. Iago's lack of emotion and conscience proves that he is amoral. In today's terms he may be described as a psychopath, which is defined as a 'mentally ill person who behaves violently without felling guilt.' Iago's amorality makes him more ruthless and dangerous in comparison to the traditional immoral villain. Only Iago's jealousy and his thirst for power made him continue and ultimately lead to his failure. Study of Shakespeare Page 1 ...read more.

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