Analysis of Iago's character in Shakespeare's 'Othello'

Essay by melimeloCollege, UndergraduateB+, April 2007

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In the tragic play "Othello" written by William Shakespeare, Iago is a complex and unique character who is thought of to many as a man of wit and pure evilness. “Neither merely coarse nor merely subtle, Iago constantly re-creates his own personality and character: ‘I am not what I am’” as said by Harold Bloom. Iago has his ways to manipulate each and every character in the play, the way he wants them to act with the end result of pushing almost every character towards his or her tragic end.

Iago is able to play a number of roles convincingly; being able to improvise and adapt his style to suit any situation. He uses the fact that he is a great judge of people and their characters to his advantage. For example Iago establishes almost immediately that Othello is someone who relies heavily on the advice of others, bitter about the fact that Othello took the advice of others and chose Cassio as lieutenant.

In Act 3, Scene 3 Iago uses this knowledge to manipulate Othello into believing that Desdemona has been unfaithful to him. In addition, throughout this scene Iago is continuously deceiving Othello. However, Iago does it so well and with such innocence that Othello doesn’t even think to question the accusations, given his emotional state, and continuously refers to Iago as “honest”.

Through carefully thought out words and actions, the “honest” Iago is able to manipulate others to do things in a way that benefits him. Iago’s soliloquy in Act 1, Scene 3 speaks of Othello’s weakness of being so heavily reliant on the advice of others, stating that “The Moor is of a free and open nature,/ That thinks men honest that but seem to be so,/ And will as tenderly be...