Iago: The Machiavellian Tactician in Othello

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Iago in Shakespeare's Othello is a dangerous manipulator looking to help himself with the downfall of others. He is what is known as a Machiavellian Tactician, or an individual who will do whatever it takes, to whoever it takes, in order to further himself, either in wealth or social standing.

The first person's life which Iago is so willing to destroy is the gullible Roderigo. Iago likes to make his victims think that they are his best friend, convincing them that he has their best interest at heart. He takes advantage of Roderigo's desire for Desdemona to use him in his attempt to bring down Othello. Iago begins scheming with Roderigo when he says, "Let us be conjunctive in our revenge against him. If thou canst cuckold him, thou dost thyself a pleasure, me a sport." (Shakespeare 27). This makes Roderigo think that he and Iago are going to work together to get Desdemona away from Othello.

This is only the beginning, however, as Roderigo soon becomes Iago's personal pawn. During a celebration in the city Iago convinces Roderigo to start a fight with Cassio once he has him sufficiently intoxicated. This event doesn't actually have any negative consequences on Roderigo; all of the attention is on Cassio thanks to Iago's sly tongue. The worst thing that Roderigo does as a result of listening to Iago's directions is trying to kill Cassio near the end of the play. It is apparent that Roderigo himself didn't know why he was doing it as he says, "I have no great devotion to the deed, and yet he hath given me satisfying reasons. 'Tis but a man gone! Forth my sword! He dies!" (Shakespeare 108). He had no real hatred toward Cassio, but was willing to kill him because Iago...