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Othello - Manipulative Iago

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Manipulative Iago

Some men die for glory, some men fight for love, and one man lived for revenge. His was the soul of a trader. His name was Iago. The opportunity that he seized changed all of their lives forever. He was on a conquest for power and nothing was going to stand in his way.

Iago is the most complex and most disturbed of all characters in Othello. His character is one that feeds on power and is willing to do anything to get it. His entire scheme begins when the "ill-suited" Casio is given the position of Lieutenant, a position he felt like he deserved. Iago deceives, steals, and kills to gain that position. He not only wants that position, he wants it all. From the beginning of the play until the very end he causes conflicts which result in the deaths of Desdemona, Othello, Roderigo, and Emilia.

In the beginning Iago is very angry at Othello for making Casio his lieutenant. His first motive is jealously. We then hear a conversation between Iago and Roderigo. Roderigo seems to be angry at Iago because he has been giving him money in return for his assistance to help win the love of Desdemona, only to find out that she has married Othello. He is beginning to feel cheated but with a few words of manipulation, Iago convinces him to spoil Desdemona's and Othello's marriage by telling him to

"Call up her father/ Rouse him, make after him, poison his delight/

Proclaim him in the streets/ incense her kinsmen... (1.1.69-75)

Iago and Roderigo then wake Brabantio and tell him of his daughter's relationship with Othello. Soon enough, they convince Barbantio and he says

"Strike on the tinder, ho!/Give me a taper! Call up all my people! /This accident is not unlike my dream/ Belief of it oppresses me already. /Light, I say, light!" (1.1.141-144)

That is exactly what Iago wanted to hear and his scheme is beginning to take place now. They exit the scene and in Iago's soliloquies he says

"Though I do hate him as I do fell pains/ Yet it is necessity of present life/ I must show out a flag and sign of love/ Which is indeed but sign. That you shall surely find him/ Lead to the Sagittary the raised search,

And there will I be with him. So farewell" (1.1.155-160)

This part of his soliloquy is the beginning of how he's using foreshadowing and tells the audience how it's going to look in the end. He now has Roderigo's attention and a small piece of a big puzzle has been planted. He continued to fancy the mind of the ignorant Roderigo and also began to fancy the mind of Othello when he tells him that Roderigo "comes to bad intent."(1.3.58) He wants the Moor to look at him with praise even though he is the cause of the meeting with the senate. This is all part of his final plan.

After the senate questioned Othello, Barbantio gave Othello his approval to marry his daughter, Desdemona, and allowed him to take her with him. At the end of the meeting Roderigo confronted Iago about the outcome. He was feeling confused and didn't know what to do now. Iago uses his way with words and tells Roderigo that "I hate the Moor." and "Let us be conjunctive in out revenge against him". (1.3.348-349) He gets Roderigo who has wronged absolutely no one to develop a hatred for Cassio, who just happens to be a victim of circumstances. At the end of the act, Iago's soliloquy tells us

"Thus do I ever make my fool my purse/ For I mine own gained knowledge should profane/ If I would time expend with such a snipe/But for my sport and profit. I hate the Moor" (1.3.362-365)

Here he reveals his plan of cheating Roderigo out of his money and giving him unfulfilled promises. In that same soliloquy he manifests the idea that he will get Othello into thinking Cassio is in love with Desdemona. That way Casio will be dismissed from lieutenant and Othello will lose Desdemona. We see early in the first act that Iago is a manipulative villain that lacks any conscious decision making.

At this point in the play Iago has planted the seeds and now wants to see how far he can persuade Roderigo and how he can use his persuasion and manipulation to become more powerful. He now has Roderigo fooled and tells him "Desdemona is directly in love with him" (2.1.212), referring to Casio. Roderigo doesn't believe what he says at first but Iago again persuades and manipulates his ignorant mind. He tells him lies and stories to fill his mind with discus, making him negative towards Casio. He asks Roderigo if he will provoke Casio and start a fight. He does this because he wants revenge on Casio for taking the position of lieutenant that he believes he deserves. During his soliloquy before everyone arrives in Cypress he tells us

"If I can fasten but one cup upon him/ With that which he hath drunk tonight already/ He'll be as full of quarrel and offense/ As my you mistress' dog. Now, my sick fool Roderigo."(2.3.36-39)

This shows he plans on getting Casio drunk while the "fool" Roderigo does his dirty work. This way, he is not involved and cannot be blamed for anything. Power is what he strives for and he already has the power to control Roderigo. Roderigo ends up provoking the fight and in the midst of it Casio stabs Montano, the governor of Cyprus. Othello comes out during this and stops the quarrel. As a result, Casio is demoted and Iago steps into his place. While they were going over what happened, Iago acted most sincere towards Casio and acted very light of the situation to get on Othello's good side. He is closer to being lieutenant but is still hungry for more power so he must follow his plot and move on to the next piece of his puzzle.

"Confess yourself freely to her; importune her help to put you in your place again. She is of so free, so kind, so apt, so blessed a disposition, she holds it a vice in her goodness not



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