In Shakespeares play Othello the Moor of Venice, Shakespeare cleverly uses the character known as Iago to personify realistic evil Essay

In Shakespeare’s play Othello the Moor of Venice, Shakespeare cleverly uses the character known as Iago to personify realistic evil.

Shakespeare accomplishes this perfect personification of evil by bestowing Iago with the traits that lead to a state of amoralism and generalized evilness. The real difference with Shakespeare’s writing is that the character Iago is not simply evil to the point that it is unrealistic but rather he has believable qualities that make him that way. One such trait is how manipulative Iago is. Another is his lack of moral boundaries. Then there is how incredibly clever and deceptive Iago is.Although not a trait, Iago’s inherent evilness cannot help but be built upon by his allowing himself to become overtaken and obsessed with jealousy. Another reason that Iago is a great personification of evil is because he so closely resembles historical and other literary figures that are generally considered to be evil as well. The first and foremost quality of Iago that makes him so amoral would have to be his manipulative actions.

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Iago is manipulative from the very beginning of the story starting with Act 1 scene 1in which he relates to Desdemona’s father what has been going on with Desdemona’s love life.In theat scene he uses such inflammatory language as “The old black ram is tupping your white ewe. ” to cause Brabantio to hate The Moor. In the very next scene, Iago shows his manipulative side again when he pretends that he is loyally on Othello’s side. Iago also manipulates his friend Roderigo from the very start of the play, Roderigo tends to be very dull mentally and because of this Iago often exploits him.

In Act 1 Scene 3, Iago manipulates Roderigo by taking advantage of his emotional state. Roderigo is crushed because he realizes that because she is married he cannot have Desdemona.Iago takes advantage of the situation by encouraging Roderigo to “put money in thy purse” by this he means to sell his land and acquire wealth so that Roderigo can use it to win over Desdemona’s heart. By itself it would not be very manipulative to give such advice, but Iago tells Roderigo that HE will personally deliver the gifts. Iago, being the manipualative character that he is, embezzles the funds for his own benefit.

When Roderigo confronts Iago about stealing the money, Iago gives Roderigo a long speech and ultimately convinces Roderigo to kill Cassio.He achieves this by making Roderigo believe that Cassio is trying to court Desdemona as well. The main conflict in this story is the ruining of the relationship between Othello and Desdemona.

The means by which Iago goes about achieving this is by the manipulation of Othello. Iago convinces Othello that Desdemona is unfaithful and ultimately leads to the dramatic Act 5 scene 2 in which Othello kills Desdemona. Iago doesn’t simply tell Othello that Desdemona is unfaithful; he demonstrates his manipulative nature by stealing a handkerchief given to Desdemona by Othello.He then gets Cassio to give the handkerchief to his lady-friend Bianca. When Othello sees that Cassio has the gift that he had previously given Desdemona, it reaffirmed his belief that Desdemona was cheating on him. The second quality that makes Iago into a realistically evil character is his lack of moral boundaries.

Iago is amoral in almost nearly all of his actions and intents. Not once in the book does Iago question his own actions. This leads one to believe that perhaps the Iago does not even possess a conscience.

There are no boundaries morally that Iago fears crossing.Iago doesn’t even question his actions when he stole all of Roderigo’s money. Iago crossed yet another moral boundary when he decided to take advantage of Cassio’s drinking problem and get him drunk in act 2 scene 3. When a dispute broke out, Iago testified saying that Cassio was the cause of the dispute.

Cassio was demoted much to Iago’s pleasure because of the incident. A boundary crossed time and time again is when Iago tells lies without a shred of remorse. Moral boundaries were once again proven irrelevant to Iago when he stabbed his own wife in Act 5 scene 2.Instead of being remorseful and guilty for what he had done, Iago took a vow of silence so as not to say anything incriminating. Three main moral boundaries were crossed by Iago, he is not adverse to making people do things that are detrimental to their overall state of being, he is unbothered by stealing, and he does not shy away from the ultimate amoral action of killing a innocent human being. Although not a quality, Iago demonstrates jealousy which as everyone has been taught can only lead to amoral actions.Iago is jealous of 3 main things; he is jealous because he thinks he has been cuckold by Othello, he is jealous of the pure love between Othello and Desdemona, and he is jealous of Cassio for obtaining the position that Iago believed that he was much more qualified for. In act 1 scene 3 Iago justifies his plotting against Othello by saying that ” it is thought abroad that ‘twixt my sheets ‘has done my office.

” What Iago is saying is that he has heard a rumor that his own wife was cheating on him with Othello. Because of this, Iago feels insecure and jealous so he enacts revenge against Othello.The second time Iago falls prey to jealousy is when he decides to take down Desdemona and Othello’s relationship. Iago’s own relationship is obviously a little bit shaky because he is willing to believe that his wife was cheating on him. Because his relationship is not satisfactory, he is jealous of fresh unvarnished love. This is partially what leads him to plot the downfall of Othello’s relationship. Then there is the jealousy of Cassio. Iago is angered and vengeful when Cassio gets the position that Iago felt like he deserved.

Iago believed that he was much more qualified for the position of general because Cassio is largely scholarly while Iago had actual military experience. Because of this Iago includes Cassio in his evil plans. As mentioned earlier, Iago gets Cassio drunk then blames him for a dispute which leads to him being demoted from the position that Iago wanted initially. One of the essential elements that make Iago to be so evil is how clever he is. As one can see from all of his musings, Iago is a very big thinker. In nearly every scene that he is a part of he has at least one or two lines that are simply him planning what he is going to do next.

What is truly ingenious about Iago, is his ability to look at a situation and identify what he needs to do in order to get what he wants. Combined with his nihilism, Iago is effectively evil because he knows logically what he needs to do to get what he wants and as stated earlier, he has no personal moral boundaries to hold him back from doing it. Iago sets himself up in a very ideal position from which to extract revenge in the sense that he is trusted and loved by nearly all of the characters in the book.

That is perhaps what is most clever about Iago.Iago has the ability to make people like him even as he plans their demise. This is seen with Othello especially. Up until one of the last scenes of the book, Othello believes that Iago is the image of a trusted and reliable officer. Several times in the book characters address Iago as “honest Iago” this massive dose of irony just points out how evil Iago actually is If these qualities are not enough to prove that Iago is an immoral and evil man, then the similarities between him and other personifications of evil should prove that he is indeed truly evil.The first evil character that Iago so closely resembles is Milton’s Satan from the book Paradise Lost. Both Satan and Iago have been victims of what they consider to be an injustice to themselves.

In Satan’s case it is the expulsion from heaven. Iago’s great personal injustice is that he does not receive the military promotion that he wants so much. Another quality shared by both Satan and Iago is the before-mentioned constant scheming. Huge sections of the book Paradise Lost are dedicated to Satan’s thoughts. Similarly, some of the largest lines in the Othello are dedicated solely to the scheming and plans that Iago dreams up.The third factor that both Satan and Iago share is their reluctance to self reflection. Iago is always looking outside of himself and blaming others for his own misery as is Satan.

Because they don’t look at themselves and take accountability for their actions, Satan and Iago seek to bring others down to their level. Another historical figure that closely resembles Iago is the infamous Adolf Hitler. The main attribute that warrants their comparison is that they both are clever in the sense that they know how to get what they want and they have no moral boundaries to prevent them from trying to achieve it.Hitler was also very manipulative.

Hitler manipulated the German Workers party into adopting his own personal motives and thus created the Nazi party. He did this by convincing them that it was in their own best interests to adopt those beliefs. A similar situation occurs in Othello when Iago convinces Roderigo that it he will get what he wants (Desdemona) if he acts in the way that Iago advises him to. Both Hitler and Satan are both generally considered evil, and because Iago so closely resembles them he must be evil as well.In summary, Iago is a personification of evil because of his qualities and the similarities between him and other evil characters.

Iago is manipulative of all those around him. He has no moral boundaries to control his behavior. His jealousy causes him to act evilly. Iago is clever which by itself would not be bad, but is made so because he uses it for wrong.

Finally Iago is considered evil because he shares the qualities of two of the most evil figures known. For these reasons it is concluded that Shakespeare has succeeded in creating a memorably evil character.


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