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"The motive hunting of a motiveless malignity" (Coleridge). Is this a fair assessment of Iago's motivation in the play?

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Introduction

Othello Coursework 21st April 2005 "The motive hunting of a motiveless malignity" (Coleridge). Is this a fair assessment of Iago's motivation in the play? This essay will explore Coleridge's assessment of Iago. In Iago's soliloquies, Iago gives many reasons as to why he hates Othello but he often abandons his ideas and searches for new ones. This is because he is not completely sure himself why he hates Othello so much and is just trying to find reasons so that he can plot against him. Iago often does not know if his reasons are true but will behave as if they are just so that he has a reason to hate Othello. Iago is always looking to justify himself and his hatred because it annoys him that he does not know why he despises Othello so much. We cannot rely on speeches of Iago talking to other characters because he is not always acting himself; most of the time he is just putting on an act. In his soliloquies however, we can see what Iago is really like. Iago's first reason for hating Othello is because Cassio was given the job as lieutenant which was the job that Iago sought after. We can see his sense of inferiority, as he feels resentful of rewards and promotions when he is not the one receiving them. Despise me if I do not: three great ones of the city, In personal suit to make me his lieutenant (Act I, Scene I, Line 8) ...read more.

Middle

Iago also likes making fun of Roderigo because he likes having private jokes to himself. He could be seen as a practical joker because he likes to play jokes on people. Iago enjoys playing with the idea that he is a good person - this is a private joke for himself. He enjoys the irony of people thinking he is good but actually evil. The person Iago reveals himself most to is Roderigo, even though we know Iago does not like him. Iago is ruthless in order to achieve the goals he sets for himself. After calling Roderigo "a snipe" (see quote above), Iago suddenly dismisses Roderigo and focuses on his hate for Othello. I hate the Moor (Act I, Scene III, Line 377) Here Iago uses such simple language but yet the sentence "I hate the Moor" is a very intense way of expressing his hatred for Othello. Iago also mentions the idea of Othello sleeping with his wife, Emilia. Iago does not know for sure that this idea is true, but he will act as if it is because it is yet another reason for his hatred towards Othello. And it is thought abroad that 'twixt my sheets He's done my office, I know not if't be true Yet I, for mere suspicious in that kind, Will do as if for surety. (Act I, Scene III, Line 378) It is very unlikely that Othello would sleep with Emilia, as he is a strong Christian and he truly loves Desdemona. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is exactly what Iago does - pretends to be someone he is not. Coleridge's assessment of Iago is not entirely valid. It is not true to say Iago has no motives - he is not "motiveless". He does have many motives, but he tries them at his own convenience and then discards them. In my opinion, Iago is evil and he does have constant motives such as his hatred of Othello throughout the play. His hatred could be seen like love for Othello which means many people think that perhaps Iago is homosexual because of Iago's perverse story about Cassio in bed with him. Some people just see him as a psychopath because there is no other way to describe him and no way to answer to why someone is evil - they just are. Another one of his motives is that he hates goodness and wants to destroy anything that makes people happy such as Othello's marriage. Iago can also not keep his sense of inferiority and superiority in balance. I do however agree with the part of the quote "the motive hunting" because it is true that Iago does not know why he hates Othello so much therefore he needs to invent many reasons for hating him. I also agree with Iago being a "malignity" because he causes harm to others intentionally. In this play, Shakespeare explores the question "why are people evil?" but he does not know the answer. He suggests that sometimes there is no reason; someone such as Iago is just evil. By Neha Amlani L5 Alpha ...read more.

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