The Evil of Iago Analytical Essay by gnossos

The Evil of Iago
An analysis of why Iago from Shakespeare's "Othello" was such an evil character.
# 153631 | 995 words | 3 sources | MLA | 2013 | US
Published on Jul 30, 2013 in Drama and Theater (English) , Literature (English) , Shakespeare (Othello)

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The paper discusses how Iago's spiteful actions, feigned friendship and sociopathic lack of concern for anyone but himself, ruin and end the lives of his supposed friends, displaying an evil within him that baffles the mind of the reader. The paper describes how cold, cruel Iago is extremely clever in his manipulations because he manages to come off as the innocent bystander when in fact he is the cause of the chaos surrounding him. The paper highlights how he takes great pleasure in using the fears, insecurities and emotions of those around to set them against one another. The paper suggests that mental illnesses could be the root of Iago's evil, and concludes that Shakespeare provokes serious contemplation when it comes to the complex and mysterious character of fiendish Iago.

From the Paper:

"Charmingly deceitful, selfish in the extreme, possibly a pathological liar, and lacking sincere emotion, Iago displays almost every sign of sociopathic behavior, ("How"). He is not the tragic hero yet still he possesses a fatal flaw: he enjoys bragging about his clever underhandedness. Though he hides his true motives to those he manipulates, he is usually willing to tell all to those he thinks too stupid to use his negligent disclosures against him. In speaking with Roderigo, the main instrument of his whims, Iago lets slip a vital fact about himself that unmasks his whole identity, "I am not what I am", (Othello. Act 1. Scene 1. 65). His cruel, grandiose scheme is ultimately unveiled for all to see by his own wife, Emilia, when she relinquishes the truth about Othello's handkercheif. Had he never involved her in his plans, it is possible no one would ever have learned the truth about Othello's wife Desdemona or his deceitfulness. Iago's primary focus of corruption is the initially good and gentle Moor, Othello. Playing off Othello's naievity, trust, and passionate nature, Iago is successful in his fiendish plotting. He is consumed with jealousy towards Othello's exceptional life and, though unclear about his feelings toward Desdemona, it does seem that he may harbor a secret desire for his friend's wife. If this is so, Iago holds the childish philosophy, "If I can't have it, no one can", driving Othello to murder his sweet Desdemona."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Asha. "How to Identify Sociopathic Behavior." 2009. 15 April 2009. < behavior.html> Shakespeare, William, Othello, the Moor of Venice. rpt. Thomas R. Arp and
  • Greg Johnson, eds. Perrine's Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense. 10th ed. Boston: Wadsworth, 2009. 1273 - 1368
  • Tonski, Gim. "Iago: What were his motives for destroying a perfect society?" 2009. 15 April 2009. <>

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