The character of Iago is presented by Shakespeare as an assimilation of puzzles each of which are unsolved. Everything that is done by this character becomes the cause of worry within the play “Othello”. Iago tends to claim that he is a man of honesty and does not pull tricks on people and this is why he enjoys a reputation of being trustworthy and honesty yet he is seen to invent and implement lies simply to create chaos and also to manipulate people into doing things that would ultimately benefit Iago and nobody else. He also sees other people as nothing but fools and uses them as pawns to win the game at the end. In addition, he is seen to harbour no emotions whatsoever for any person, not even his own wife but things were not always the same because it is inferred that he had loved his wife dearly once upon a time. He is a character that has no strings attached to any person in the play but instead of simply walking away in disdain he stays within the play and is driven by immense amount of hate. Despite the fact that he is see to mouth some of the most beautiful words within the play, he is a man who truly believes in cheating and even lying for his own good even though it may have negative results on other people.
Iago has been successful in achieving a position where people have blind trust on him and see him as a reliable and reputable person. Othello along with others in the play have been seen to use adjectives like honesty with Iago’s name but in reality, Iago is nowhere close to being simple and honest rather he is malicious and extremely cruel. Iago has climbed up the ladder of ranks in the army through his achievements and merits and even Othello whose judgement in the military context is close to perfect took Iago as his captain especially because of the qualities held by Iago. Shakespeare through the character of Iago presents the readers and viewers with a character who goes against the reputation that is created by him in the eyes of people. While there is no clear description about how Iago won such a reputation for himself it is safe to say that he was always a man who could trick people into believing that he was a man of honour, reputation and trust while being a traitor inside. However, there is also a possibility that in order to earn such a reputation Iago used to be the man that he proclaims to be, that is, honest and honourable. This is completely left to the imagination of the viewer or the reader and Shakespeare never puts the record straight about how a man like Iago was able to earn such a powerful position not just within the army but also in the lives of people so much so that he was able to turn Othello against his own wife.
Shakespeare established the character of Iago with the help of an idea that had already existed in the culture of theatre that existed during the time Shakespeare was writing this play: the Devil that were shown in the religious morality plays, which later developed into the idea of a villain in the Elizabethan tragedy and drama. Iago says that (I.1, 65) "I am not what I am," which can simply be interpreted as “I am not what I seem." Besides being a clear declaration of Iago’s personality, it can also be seen as reminiscence of a quotation from the Bible which was certainly known to Shakespeare. This excerpt is from Exodus when God gave Moses all of his laws at Mt. Sinai and Moses had asked God his name; God replied to it by saying “I am that I am" (Exodus, III,14). If the phrase mentioned above is the identity of who God is then the line said by Iago is clearly the opposite of who he is. The Iago that is presented by Shakespeare possesses all the qualities of being a medieval and Renaissance morality plays Devil as Iago like the Devil is a liar, he keeps making promises to people with no intentions of standing by the promise, he even spins fancy stories only to trap the innocent people into it and then guide them towards creating havoc and destruction within the play and the lives of other people, he identifies the vulnerabilities of people and then exploits these weaknesses only to destroy the individual later. All of this is done by Iago not to bring about any form of good but only because he loves being evil and destroy the lives of other people. Iago could have easily led a life of happiness but he is much more interested in ruining the lives of others.
Iago is a character that is engulfed with bitter sort of irony: he is not the kind of person that he portrays to be, he is constantly doing things that is good for him but extremely harmful to others and even when people rely on him, he uses their trust to betray them. He makes use of people who are not witty like him only to carry out his dirty works and he takes pleasure in inflicting pain on others which clearly shows him in a negative light. He becomes the reason for a series of death not just during the play but even at the end of the play. He shows no signs of regret for what he has done even when he is caught and this is enough to show how Iago possesses qualities of being a Devil who initially is disguised as an angel. Iago becomes the pilot who rides people to their destruction. Othello who is a wise man and is also seen to be a strong individual with clear understanding ends up falling for Iago’s cheap tricks which ultimately leads him to kill his beloved wife at the end. Thus, Iago is nothing but a Devil.
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