Analysis of Iago Character in Shakespeare's "Othello"

Essay by -BOUNCE-High School, 11th gradeA, May 2003

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The early scenes of "Othello" establish Iago's character and allow the audience to learn of his nature. He plays two different people, the disguise of the trusty and loyal ensign and the one whom hides behind this disguise. Act One, Scene One is the most important because it foreshadows the whole drama. Iago is young and treacherous, a scoundrel from the start of the play. In "Othello", Shakespeare makes the audience aware of the notion that people are not all what they appear to be on the surface. Iago's character compliments this notion, as he cleverly disguises his true nature behind a mask. He portrays himself as Othello's loyal and trustworthy ensign as opposed to his actual evil and mischievous nature. Iago gives the reader a warning that he is not all that he seems when he says, "I am not what I am". Shakespeare suggests that Iago is not really a man, but the devil in disguise, manipulating people for his own pleasure.

His character is quickly established as corrupt and sly as he pretends to be a supporter of Othello but in reality, is secretly scheming against him. Iago achieves this easily as his great ability to play the part of the "loyal ensign" renders his facade more than convincing. Othello believes "honest Iago's" every word and begins to rely on him for information. Iago's jealousy of Othello's position is more than evident as he broods upon the lost promotion. Othello took the advice of others and chose Cassio, who is young and untested. Iago feels betrayed at this because Othello had seen him in battle but overlooked him. In Act One, Scene One, Iago and Roderigo are discussing the current situation and Iago expresses his thoughts towards the promotion. "I know my price, I am worth no...