Iago is undoubtedly a cold hearted and merciless villain, who does not care about the amount of emotional destruction he causes to anyone, in Othello. He often uses crude language, and cunningly manages to adapt a suitable tone and style to suit any situation. However his motives for the treacherous breakdown of Othello and Desdemona’s marriage and love for each other, which he induces, are not strictly clear.
Possible motives for Iago’s behaviour are perhaps jealousy or revenge. Many critics, however, believe there is perhaps a much more sinister motive, that being that he is motivated by the devil as he is a naturally evil person with no real reasons for his actions.An obvious motive for much of Iago’s behaviour and hatred for people is jealousy. In Act I scene1 Iago speaks of his disgust that Cassio has become Othello’s lieutenant, and not him. He makes a jealous sounding comment about Cassio, in saying: “And what was he?/ Forsooth, a great arithmetician” claiming Cassio lacks practical experience of warfare, which of course Iago has.
He also admits to the personal envy of the “daily beauty” in the lieutenant’s life. This could form the basis of why Iago plots to have Cassio lose his title and become hated by Othello.Iago is not afraid to speak of his racist view of Othello, who incidentally is a higher rank than him. Iago uses harsh and crude language when he refers to Othello and Desdemona making love: “Even now, now, very now, an old black ram/ Is tupping your white ewe”. He also refers to Othello as a “Barbary horse” and tries to convince Brabantio that he will have mutant nephews and cousins: “You’ll have your nephews/ neigh to you, you’ll have coursers for cousins”.The Characters of Othello, Cassio and Iago Essay