Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade June 2001

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Othello If there is one thing to be learned from reading Shakespeare, it's that there is never a good guy. There is always a greedy someone lurking in the shadows manipulating, plotting, and scheming against everyone else in order to get their hands on something.

Such is the role of Iago in Shakespeare's Othello. He plays each character against each other, lying and manipulating them all at the same time, to satisfy his need for revenge.

Iago is livid with Othello, because he had chosen Cassio, a junior in years to Iago, as his lieutenant. Iago swears his revenge on Othello and uses Roderigo as his first pawn against him. Roderigo is in love with Desdemona, who Othello had just eloped with. Iago then decides that this is an ideal opportunity to find an "ally". So, he uses Roderigo's passion for Desdemona, and hatred for Othello to his advantage.

He has Roderigo help him convince Desdemona's father, Brabantio, that she has been seduced and run away with an old black "ram". This illustrates first of all, the prejudices that Iago holds against Othello, for being black. Not only has he been outranked, but also by the order of a black man who has more power than he does! "Your heart is burst, you have lost half your soul; Even now, now, very now, an old black ram is tupping your white ewe." (Iago, Othello, Act I, Scene II) Iago then tells Othello that Brabantio has slurred his honor. Othello, who is confident that his military background and stature will compensate for any complaints that were made about him, quickly dismisses this idea. This again brings out Iago's hate and prejudice that Othello does not take him for his word. Iago's motives behind these actions are no doubt primarily to bring harm to Othello and discharge him, but also in jealousy of him. Othello is a black, middle aged man, who has taken away a position from Iago, and also has a young and beautiful wife. Somewhere along in this, Iago forms a jealousy of Othello. A black man, with a high position of power, rather older but with a young and beautiful wife.

And to add to this, he is so confident in himself that he dismisses Iago's first attempt to slander without a worry! Secondly, Iago goes after Cassio, the young man who had gotten the position of lieutenant. This is no doubt out of jealousy also. He tells Roderigo that Cassio is in love with Desdemona, and to provoke a fight with him. This, Iago points out, would relieve Cassio of his duty and eliminate one other rival for Desdemona's affections. Roderigo agrees, and the fight breaks out after Iago coaxes Cassio into drinking, and he is then relieved of his post. This is no doubt driven by Iago's jealousy that Cassio had been appointed over him, and he takes out his anger on an innocent. Iago also embraces this idea in hope of sparking a fuse in Othello, and turning him against his own wife. "For that I do suspect they lusty Moor Hath leap'd into my seat: the thought whereof Doth, like poisonous mineral, gnaw my inwards; And nothing can or shall content my should Till I am even'd with him, wife for wife;" (Iago, Othello, Act II, Scene I) Iago is a character, driven entirely by the burn of jealousy. He wants what he cannot have, and takes matters into his own hands. At the same time, he is clever, using other people as his pawns to carry out his acts of revenge. Two faced, playing the role of friend and comforter to everyone while secretly scheming while they aren't looking. All around, a typical Shakespearean bad guy.