Friday, January 15, 2010

Iago Is the Perfect Villian (Passage analysis: Act 1 Scene 3)

Thus do I ever make my fool my purse;
For I mine own gain'd knowledge should profane
If I would time expend with such a snipe
But for my sport and profit. I hate the Moor;
And it is thought abroad that 'twixt my sheets
He has done my office: I know not if't be true;
But I, for mere suspicion in that kind,
Will do as if for surety. He holds me well,
The better shall my purpose work on him.
Cassio's a proper man: let me see now;
To get his place, and to plume up my will
In double knavery, — How, how? — Let's see: —
After some time, to abuse Othello's ear
That he is too familiar with his wife: —
He hath a person, and a smooth dispose,
To be suspected; fram'd to make women false.
The Moor is of a free and open nature,
That thinks men honest that but seem to be so;
And will as tenderly be led by the nose
As asses are.
I have't; — it is engender'd: — hell and night
Must bring this monstrous birth to the world's light.

Throughout the play Othello Shakespeare is presenting a tragic story of many people who ruined their lives due to lies and deception. The center character in the tragedy, the one behind all the plots and mischief, Iago, is the portrayed as the perfect villain due to his cunning character and his total disregard for other people’s feelings. In his first soliloquy at the end of Act I Iago rises in front of the audience and reveals his evil plan, his hypocrisy, his anger towards Othello, and his evil personality. He is determined and certain to fulfill his monstrous plot and devastate Othello and the other characters.
During the whole play Iago is lying to his master, his wife, and his friends in order to benefit from deceiving them. He does not hide his hatred towards Othello from the audience but he skillfully pretends to respect and praise his General in front of other characters. Thus, as a seemingly honest man in the eyes of people in society, Iago intends to use his reputation to betray and ruin Othello’s life:
“He holds me well,
The better shall my purpose work on him” (I.3.390-391).
Hypocracy, as a main theme in the tragedy, is revealed by this quote. The whole play and Iago’s plans and final goal are all build on the idea of deceiving others and making them believe he is helping them. This is another proof that Iago is the perfect antagonist. He manages to figure out how to manipulate people and uses Othello’s good nature in order to deceive him. He shares with the audience that his master believes in the honesty of people and is positive that this is a mistake: “and will as tenderly be led by the nose.”(I.3.401). Like a puppet master Iago sets and uses people anyway he wants in order to execute his play. This portrays him as a person, a villain, deprived of soul and any goodness who reaches his goal regardless of the consequences and of the damages he might have caused.
Iago’s hatred and jealousy towards his master are the motifs of these actions. He, however, hides them and cunningly plots a way to hurt Othello without coming off as the villain himself. He plans to make the innocent Cassio look like the traitor:
“Cassio’s a proper man. Let me see now:
After some time, to abuse Othello's ear
That he is too familiar with his wife ” (I.3.392-395/6).
Here is introduced the theme of jealousy that is leading in the tragedy. The feeling of being betrayed by the loved one is painful and unbearable and Iago uses that in order to influence his general. That way Iago cleverly will manage to hurt both Othello and Cassio without them even realizing it. Due to this brilliantly evil character Iago is the perfect villain. Iago’s evilness, however, is often unreasonable. His character shows him to be feeling insecure and unappreciated. He hates his master because he did not promote him lieutenant and consequently Iago hates the person who got promoted: Cassio. The antagonist also believes that Othello have slept with his wife Emilia:
“He has done my office: I know not if't be true” (I.3.388).
Jealousy in this case turns out to be not only Iago’s tool in ruining Othello’s life but also the motive power that got him into creating his evil plan. That is why Iago puts all his efforts into his purpose to destroy “the Moor”. He is the absolute evil because of his devotion to his plans and desire to hurt others. His words are also foreshadowing the terrible deeds Iago is about to do because he shares his insult and his plots. He draws himself as an evil, careless person who is capable of doing everything in order to make himself feel and look good and the audience can only sit silently, wait, and fear to see his further actions.
Iago delivers his soliloquy, showing his treachery and his evil character with no regret and worry. He is indeed the perfect villain due to his desire to torture others and his cunning ways to do so. The audience sees the ugliness Iago’s character and yet none of the characters in the play does. This is essential for him because he manages to hide his true nature and fulfill his evil plots. Thus, in the first soliloquy the image of Iago is shaping to be an absolute, brilliant evil, portraying his plans and still keeping the suspense of what will happen next.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. You have made many grammatical mistakes as well as ones in spelling. This work is very repetitive and because it has no or virtually no connotations, it is barely passable.