Iago - The Antagonist

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In William Shakespeare's play "Othello", we learn about the dramatic contribution of the antagonistic character Iago, who through his manipulative and hypocritical qualities satisfied his insatiable desire for revenge, and showed his constant deception of the entire cast. Iago is incredibly manipulative. He seems to be aware of how those around him will act and react to certain events. Iago is a smart man who knows that he has to plan ahead in order to get to where he wants to be. He is jealous of Cassio's position and is determined to manipulate his way into it. Though Iago does not hate Cassio, he believes that Cassio is just another pawn that will help him get to the top. Iago tells the audience that, "Cassio's a proper man: let me see now; To get his place and to plume up my will/In double knavery" (I.iii.385-387), proving that he is plotting to get Cassio's job.

To further his plan, Iago attempts to get Cassio drunk. He is aware that it would not take very much to do so, and he plans on using this to his advantage. Iago reveals to the audience his true intentions about the celebration when he states, "If I can fasten but one cup upon him,/With that which he hath drunk tonight already,/He'll be as full of quarrel and offence" (II.iii.44-47). He knows that even a little bit of alcohol will turn Cassio's happiness into anger, and that it would cause problems. Therefore, Iago knows exactly what he has to accomplish in order to manipulate people's thoughts and have control over any situation that may arise. Iago is also unbelievably devious and very hypocritical. Though he is Othello's ancient, and initially comes off as a loyal, trustworthy friend, time and time again he betrays his superior. On the surface, Iago appears to be someone completely different. When speaking to Othello he says, "My lord you know I love you" (III.iii.116), but to Roderigo a whole other side is revealed through the words, "In following him, I follow but myself./Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty" (I.i.59-60). During the course of the play, Iago lies, betrays and even plans to murder his closest friends. Deep down he is thinking, "I hate the moor" (I.iii.359), yet when around Othello he acts like he is a loyal friend. This leads Othello to believe that Iago is a man "of honesty and trust" (I.iii.281), and that "He is a good one, and his worthiness/Does challenge much respect" (II.i.204-205). Iago seems willing to do anything to be successful in his plan. Just as the drunken Cassio ended his uncontrollable rampage, Iago began to spread his maliciousness to Montano. He tells Montano that he fears "the trust Othello puts in him" (II.iii.120), to place doubts in Montano's head about Cassio's credibility. Since Montano does not personally know Cassio, he believes the lies told by Iago. When Othello enters, Iago changes his opinion and pretends to be loyal to Cassio, because he knows that Othello is aware of exactly what type of man Cassio is. To prove that he is an honest friend of Cassio's, Iago exclaims, "I had rather have this tongue cut from my mouth/Than it should do offence to Michael Cassio" (II.iii.214-215). Iago tells the two gentlemen that he would rather be tortured than to speak against Cassio to build credibility, so that when he finally does speak his words will be taken seriously. As a result of his elaborate schemes, Iago reveals himself as a truly devious man. Lastly Iago is very mercurial. Using Desdemona, an innocent with whom he has no quarrel, Iago weaves a web of deception that ensnares the essentially innocent Othello, Cassio, Roderigo and Emilia, each guilty only of hurting Iago's pride. This can be witnessed in his Act 1 soliloquy. Here he reveals in the power he wields, which can turn Desdemona's 'virtue into pitch'. Certainly, Iago is the antagonist in the tragedy of Othello, since he is manipulative, hypocritical and devious. He betrays his closest friends and lies about their true intentions, which ultimately leads to the deaths of many. Antagonism is an important element in the development and conclusion of a tragic play, since it is the cause of the controversy that the play focuses on.

We learn about the dramatic contribution of the antagonistic character Iago, who through his manipulative and hypocritical qualities satisfied his insatiable desire for revenge, and showed his constant deception of the entire cast. Iago is incredibly manipulative. He seems to be aware of how those around him will act and react to certain events. Iago is a smart man who knows that he has to plan ahead in order to get to where he wants to be. He is jealous of Cassio's position and is determined to manipulate his way into it. Though Iago does not hate Cassio, he believes that Cassio is just another pawn that will help him get to the top. Iago tells the audience that, "Cassio's a proper man: let me see now; To get his place and to plume up my will/In double knavery" (I.iii.385-387), proving that he is plotting to get Cassio's job. To further his plan, Iago attempts to get Cassio drunk. He is aware that it would not take very much to do so, and he plans on using this to his advantage. Iago reveals to the audience his true intentions about the celebration when he states, "If I can fasten but one cup upon him,/With that which he hath drunk tonight already,/He'll be as full of quarrel and offence" (II.iii.44-47). He knows that even a little bit of alcohol will turn Cassio's happiness into anger, and that it would cause problems. Therefore, Iago knows exactly what he has to accomplish in order to manipulate people's thoughts and have control over any situation that may arise. Iago is also unbelievably devious and very hypocritical. Though he is Othello's ancient, and initially comes off as a loyal, trustworthy friend, time and time again he betrays his superior. On the surface, Iago appears to be someone completely different. When speaking to Othello he says, "My lord you know I love you" (III.iii.116), but to Roderigo a whole other side is revealed through the words, "In following him, I follow but myself./Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty" (I.i.59-60). During the course of the play, Iago lies, betrays and even plans to murder his closest friends. Deep down he is thinking, "I hate the moor" (I.iii.359), yet when around Othello he acts like he is a loyal friend. This leads Othello to believe that Iago is a man "of honesty and trust" (I.iii.281), and that "He is a good one, and his worthiness/Does challenge much respect" (II.i.204-205). Iago seems willing to do anything to be successful in his plan. Just as the drunken Cassio ended his uncontrollable rampage, Iago began to spread his maliciousness to Montano. He tells Montano that he fears "the trust Othello puts in him" (II.iii.120), to place doubts in Montano's head about Cassio's credibility. Since Montano does not personally know Cassio, he believes the lies told by Iago. When Othello enters, Iago changes his opinion and pretends to be loyal to Cassio, because he knows that Othello is aware of exactly what type of man Cassio is. To prove that he is an honest friend of Cassio's, Iago exclaims, "I had rather have this tongue cut from my mouth/Than it should do offence to Michael Cassio" (II.iii.214-215). Iago tells the two gentlemen that he would rather be tortured than to speak against Cassio to build credibility, so that when he finally does speak his words will be taken seriously. As a result of his elaborate schemes, Iago reveals himself as a truly devious man. Lastly Iago is very mercurial. Using Desdemona, an innocent with whom he has no quarrel, Iago weaves a web of deception that ensnares the essentially innocent Othello, Cassio, Roderigo and Emilia, each guilty only of hurting Iago's pride. This can be witnessed in his Act 1 soliloquy. Here he reveals in the power he wields, which can turn Desdemona's 'virtue into pitch'. Certainly, Iago is the antagonist in the tragedy of Othello, since he is manipulative, hypocritical and devious. He betrays his closest friends and lies about their true intentions, which ultimately leads to the deaths of many. Antagonism is an important element in the development and conclusion of a tragic play, since it is the cause of the controversy that the play focuses on.