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Iago’s Revenge to Othello

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Revenge is the main theme in the play Othello by William Shakespeare and it is portrayed from the character Iago. Through Iago’s soliloquies he reveals his horrible doings. Iago wants to get revenge on Othello and his loved one Desdemona. The reason why he wants to get revenge at Othello is because he promotes Cassio to Lieutenant. Iago takes advantage of his reputation “Honesty Iago” to manipulate other characters in the play to get revenge from Othello. Iago is aware that he can easily manipulate the people around him to get revenge from Othello that he does not stop and think about the harm he is causing. Iago is a brilliant character that he successfully manipulates Cassio, Desdemona, Roderigo and his own wife Emilia to fulfill his revenge against Othello.

Iago’s manipulation of people and events leads the play into a tragedy. I disagree with Jem Bloomfield when he says, “Iago doesn’t have a motivation, and doesn’t need one” Iago makes it seem like he is getting revenge for no apparent reason but he does have a reason. For example when Othello gives the lieutenant position to Cassio, Iago is upset because he thought he would get the position so he plans to get revenge at him. Iago says, “One Michael Cassio, a Florentine, A fellow almost dammn’d in a fair wife: That never set a squadron in the field, Nor the division of a battle knows more than a spinster” (1.1.2) Iago is jealous and believes that Cassio should have never got the position because he has never been on the field like he has been. Iago says, “I hate the Moor: And it is thought abroad, that ‘twixt my sheets He has done my office: I know not if’t be true; But I. for mere suspicion in that kind, Will do as if for surety” (1.3.12). The quote is the start of Iago’s planning for revenge to Othello and hatred towards him.

Iago also uses Desdemona and Cassio to manipulate Othello to think that his wife is not being loyal to him. Clever Iago is able to have a conversation with Cassio so that Othello can listen to them speak about his wife, but they are really talking about when Cassio slept with Bianca. Iago uses Desdemona’s friendliness for his own evil plan. Iago starts talking to himself saying, “I will turn her virtue into pitch” (2.3.338). This quotes means that he will do anything to get revenge on Othello. He is sure that after Cassio got into a fight and Othello took away his position as lieutenant, that Cassio will talk to Desdemona and try getting her to talk to Othello about getting his position back. Since Desdemona would talk a lot about Cassio being a good man and that he should give him the position back, Iago planted in his head that Desdemona was cheating on him with Cassio. When Othello has found out that Cassio has the handkerchief, He goes to Desdemona and says, “Lend me thy handkerchief” (4.3).Desdemona tries to change the subject and starts talking about Cassio getting back his position which makes Othello think even more that she has been with him in his bed. At this point Iago has really implanted the thought of his wife cheating on him. According to Bloomfield, “Iago is the master of manipulation”.

I agree with Bloomfield because Iago know how to manipulate every person in the play without any of the characters noticing of the evil things he is up to. I also believe that Iago got lucky with everything he planned because at any point something could have gone wrong, but everything went well. Emilia is told by his husband to get the Handkerchief from Desdemona that Othello gave to her symbolizing there love. She isn’t sure why he wants it but she is willing to take it because she will do anything for her husband, for him to pay attention to her. Emilia says, “She let it drop by negligence And, to the advantage, I, being here, took’t up. Look, here it is” (3.3.312). Instead of Emilia giving back the Handkerchief to Desdemona when she dropped it she kept it to give to Iago. Emilia was responsible for Desdemona’s death because she didn’t give the handkerchief back and was being a bad friend at that point. Iago is friends with Roderigo and knows that he is in love with Othello’s wife Desdemona and he uses that against him to manipulate him.

Iago also knows that Roderigo will do anything for Desdemona’s love. Iago says, “Thus I do ever make a fool my purse” (1.3.355). Iago tells this to Roderigo which means that he is willing to manipulate anyone as long as he gives him jewels and money. This quote makes him look brilliant because he knows that Roderigo has a lot of money and will do anything to be with Desdemona. I agree when D. Madison says, “In Othello, he knows just what to say to sound innocent. Iago is the ultimate master of manipulation”. Iago uses his knowledge wisely and uses it to manipulate others for his own satisfaction, and knows how to manipulate them because he has analyzed them before, and that is what makes him so good at being evil. Iago is fully aware what he is doing and has no sympathy for anyone like he says himself; “And what’s he then that says play the villain, When this advice is free I give, and honest” (2.3.299). Samuel Taylor Coleridge says that, “Motive-hunting” means that Iago is looking for something and trying to achieve his goal.

Everyone knows that Iago’s goal is to get revenge at Othello, and I agree that it is true what Iago is trying to do. Samuel also says that Iago is doing all those bad things for no apparent reason and just because he is pure evil. I agree with him because Iago is pure evil but I also disagree because he did have a motivation for his revenge but just went too far with it and gets caught up in it. When Iago gets caught with all the lies and the bad thing he has done in the end he would have never thought that has plan would go for the worst, and that he would kill his own wife because of something she said. Emilia says “That handkerchief thou speak’st of I found by fortune and did give my husband… He begged of me to steal it” (5.2.240) and this is when everything gets out of hand for Iago and he did not have an excuse for everything he did because his wife revealed the truth about the handkerchief.

Even though Iago did not have much proof of Cassio supposedly cheating on Othello, Othello still believe him because he was “honest Iago”. Iago does many bad actions and continues to do them, he doesn’t stop to think of all the harm he is going to do to everything he manipulates in the play. That’s why I agree with what Soliman Mayada Yasr say, “Iago is a cynical and malicious villain who only aspires to destroy others…cannot be stopped-filled with jealousy, deceit, anger, hate and manipulation”. In the beginning of the story the father of Desdemona says to Othello, “Look to her, Moor. If thou hast eyes to see: She has deceived her father, and may thee” (1.3.292). In this quote Desdemona’s father is saying that if he she deceived him she will deceive him. This made Othello believe Iago even more because of what the father said since it had been told to him before Iago did it. Iago was so brilliant in bringing back what the father had said to Othello to manipulate it even more, he says to Othello, “She did deceive her father, marrying you” (3.3.206).

In the end Othello is sure that Desdemona’s has been unfaithful to him. Iago says, “Do it not with poison, strangle her in bed, even the bed she hath contaminated” (4.1.207). Othello is so certain about what Iago has been telling him that he wants to poison her but Iago says t strangle her and Othello agrees. Iago knows that he has the trust of Othello and turns into someone really jealous, and doubtful of his own wife. Iago’s brilliant ideas to get revenge at Othello bring many tragedies to many characters in the play. When Desdemona is already dead and so is Emilia, which is when Othello realizes that Iago had been the bad guy all along. Othello says to Iago, “If that thou be’st a devil, I cannot kill thee” (5.2.284). In this quote Othello is telling Iago that if he is he will not die, and he tells him this because he stabs him for all the things he has done. Iago says, “I bleed… but not killed” (5.2.285).

In this quote Iago is saying that he hasn’t been killed meaning that he is the devil. Iago never confessed why he did all that he did. Emilia, Desdemona, and Roderigo die and it was all because of Iago. It was all because a handkerchief that belonged to Desdemona that represented the love of her and Othello her husband. Iago says, “Demand me nothing: what you know, you know: From this time forth I never will speak word” (5.2.303). Iago doesn’t want to talk anymore because he had got caught and he knew he was heading to self destruction, but to still maintain some pride he stood quiet as if he did nothing bad to anyone. In the play Othello by William Shakespeare Iago is a brilliant villain that wants to get revenge at Othello.

Iago takes advantage of many characters to manipulate them in helping him with his plan to get revenge. Iago also manipulates Othello with just using words and one evidence to make Othello think that his wife is been unfaithful and that is when he manipulate others to make Othello think that he is right. During the play Iago everyone think that he is trustworthy and is honest and that why he was called “honest Iago”. Iago’s revenge causes some characters to be killed in the end of the play and causes tragedy to them and himself. Since the other characters believe that Iago is a good person that is what helps him in his plan to get revenge at Othello. Iago is a brilliant villain that just got caught up in the moment when he tried to get revenge and caused his own tragedy. Iago showed that he had so much pride in what he did that he did not want to admit what he was doing wrong. He didn’t want to take responsibility of what he did. In the other hand Othello did confess what he did to his wife Desdemona and took full responsibly and also suffered the consequences.

Work cited

Bloomfield, Jem. “Iago’s Motivation.” Suite101.com. Suite101, 22 Aug. 2007. Web. 19 Feb.2013.
D., Madison. “William Smithyman- Hour 6 HCAII Blog.”William Smithyman- Hour HCAII Blog. Blue Valley, 05 Oct. 2010. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.
Soliman, Mayada Yasr. “Iago’s Analyze (Motives).” Othello analyze.com. Academic Journalism Scholar critics; characters Review, 31 May 2010. Web. 21 Feb. 2013.

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