A malevolent character wishes harm without motive and I believe that Iago’s actions against Othello are the major cause of the Moor’s downfall.Iago has many reasons for acting the way he does, his reasons may not be or logical but he believes in them so strongly that he is willing to kill and destroy peoples lives in the process of completing them. His entire motives stem from one thing, jealousy, all of Iago’s actions are due to this single feeling.
His revenge comes from wanting to overthrow the people he is jealous of. He is jealous of both Othello and Cassio. He is jealous of Othello because he is a black and has a high position in the army when a white man should because they are better, in Iago’s view. Due to the lifestyle of people at the time this play is set this seems to be an acceptable view and Iago seems to have a right to feel the way he does. However, his actions which stem from this aren’t acceptable and are going too far.He is also jealous of Cassio because he was made lieutenant ahead of Iago. Iago believes he should have been promoted because he has far more battle experience.
He seems to elaborate on these initial ideas and ends up been suspicious of every one for doing the most unlikely things, one of which is sleeping with his wife. This fuels his hatred and he wants more and more revenge. In his quest for revenge he uses Roderigo to get money, which he does by saying he will help Roderigo get closer to Desdemona for a fee.
Strangely enough Iago seems to enjoy everything that he does.In this play Shakespeare presents Iago early on so that the audience realise he is a main character and will inevitably cause problems. This idea is shown in the very first scene when Iago is telling Roderigo that he only follows the Moor, who he shows hatred towards, for his own gain. The two then visit Brabantio to cause trouble and get someone else angry with Othello by informing him of Othello’s and Desdemona’s secret relationship. This immediately shows how scheming Iago is and provides the potential for more trouble involving Iago in the future.Iago becomes very jealous of Othello because of his position in the Venetian Army. Iago feels that black men should not rise above him because at that time black people held a lower place in society than white people.
Iago often refers to Othello as the ‘Moor’ and the ‘Black Ram’ when talking to others about him. With these statements Iago is implying that Othello is worse than white people and because of his race he should not hold the position he does in the army. Out of this racism also extends the jealousy of Othello’s wife, Desdemona. He is sexually attracted to her but that is not a real reason for hating Othello. Iago’s mind concocts stories, which he believes are true, and thus making himself think that it is right to take revenge on Othello.Iago’s malevolence is constantly shown throughout the play by Shakespeare utilising the soliloquy, which gain access to his bitterness and insecurities. Due to the complexity of Iago’s character it is very hard to understand him and get inside his made (see things the way he does). The use of the soliloquy helps the audience to understand Iago and his way of thinking but it still remains hard to fully understand this complex character.
Iago seems to have reason to want revenge for Othello over looking him for promotion and giving it to Cassio instead. This is because Iago has lots battle experience and Cassio has none. Therefore, I can see why Iago was angry because it seems to him that he had worked a lot harder than Cassio and so deserved promotion more. This seems to be the starting point from which Iago concocts other stories so that he can have more reason in his own mind for further inflicting his hatred upon Othello. At times it seems as though Iago is searching for reasons that he can hurt Othello for, regardless of whether they are real or not.
The main example of this is when Iago says that Othello has “leapt into his seat”. By this Iago is saying that he believes Othello has slept with his wife, Emilia. This hasn’t actually happened but Iago believes it and his hatred towards Othello grows even more.Iago’s jealousy is also for Cassio and this is because he feels he should have been promoted to Lieutenant ahead of Cassio. Iago is almost ‘fixated’ on getting revenge for this and creates a plan to get Cassio in trouble so Othello will replace him with Iago.
Iago persuaded Cassio to have a glass of wine when he was on guard and before long he was drunk. Iago then got him into a fight and the noise created from the people there woke Othello up. He was outraged with Cassio’s behaviour and removed from his position with Iago replacing him. Iago also seems to believe that Cassio has slept with Emilia. This is demonstrated by the quotation “I fear Cassio with me nightcap too”. Although, this is highly unlikely Iago seems to believe it and his hatred is fuelled even more.
Iago gets closer to Cassio and Othello by appearing to be on their side and trying to help them. This is all part of his plan and demonstrates how deceiving he really is. He sticks up for them when they are around but when their backs are turned he uses and destroys them. He gets close to them so that they “trust” him.
Othello often said “Honest Iago” and this demonstrates how much he trusted and respected Iago.From the start of the play Iago makes his intentions clear; “I follow him to serve my turn upon him”. He also says that he follows Othello for his on gain, “In following him I follow myself”. This shows he isn’t just trying to ruin people’s lives but if he has to in order to get what he wants he will do.
Another reason for Iago’s behaviour is that he wants financial gain by using Roderigo. Roderigo gives Iago money and jewellery to give to Desdemona in a bid to win her heart, but Iago doesn’t give anything to Desdemona and keeps it for himself. Iago also uses Roderigo to do his dirty work and clear up the messes he leaves, such as starting a fight with Cassio so Iago could be promoted. This shows Iago is even more cunning because he can persuade someone else to do things for him so it isn’t obvious to others what he is up to.
The fact that he also tries to ruin Cassio’s life as well as Othello’s shows he is just plain evil.I also think that Iago enjoys ruining people’s lives and gives kind of a ‘buzz’. This further emphasises how evil he actually is. Iago can be likened to a chameleon because he changes when he is in different environments and seems to fool all the other characters with none of them having a clue what he is actually up to. When he is with Othello he acts very friendly and honestly but when he is not with him he is scheming and becomes mad with jealousy being intent on planning ways to hurt Othello.
This again shows Iago’s evil nature and these actions are the basis for Othello’s downfall.This play shows how someone can become obsessed with something so much that they can kill people without thinking twice. Iago did this with his wife when he stabbed her to escape once he had been found out.
Iago achieved his original aims and had got even with Othello and Cassio by making it look as though Cassio and Desdemona were having an affair behind Othello’s back. This made Othello hate Cassio and made it easier for Iago. It also drove Othello over the edge and Iago got what he wanted. He still hated them so much that he exploited them further and this led to Othello’s death.
We never like Iago but he is a fascinating character because to the audience he is so openly villainous and we can see how he is a ‘puppet master’ figure behind a likeable but fallible character, Othello. Iago knows exactly which ‘strings to pull’ in order to get at Othello. I have come to the conclusion that Iago had motives but he developed them and he became obsessed with destroying Othello’s life. He was too cunning for his own good and tried to do too much to gain what he wanted.