Iago's Motives in William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice
Iago, having the typical attributes of a Machiavelli character; seems to be inherently evil. He revels in his ability to dissemble and destroy. Defending himself through constant reassurances- Iago claims to disgrace Cassio because of his `daily beauty' and the fact that a `Florentine' who knows nothing about battles `more than a spinster' becomes lieutenant. This seems to outrage him- a spark that sets of the fire raging in his heart.
As a result, he fabricates an ingenious plan- one by one he would make everyone pay. He only needed the right moment; he gains his chance as they set sail to Cyprus- an island free from the orderly social and political scene of Venice. Iago would use this new and unfamiliar setting to attack. To attack he needed weapons- his best being his `honest' and cunning mind.
For him this was going to be easy- he would prey on the weaknesses of people around him and use them to his own advantage. This tactic of Iago's is extremely effective. He uses Roderigo, `whom love hath turned almost the wrong side out' to `put our Cassio in some action'. Now, you must remember Iago's initial motive, here: to `strip' him out of his lieutenancy. He believes Cassio has also slept with his wife; an absurd suspicion- but nevertheless allows Iago to continue with his plan. I believe, Iago here does have some conscience of what he's doing- he constantly tries to reassure himself of what he's doing is right; he himself is a victim of his own devise. He allows himself to get carried away with accusations he can't prove. But how would he accomplish such an act?
Using his reputation as `honest Iago' as bait he would `ensnare them all'. Iago needed to find a weakness in Cassio: `to fasten but one cup' and put `our Cassio in some action'. What better way for devious Iago, to do this. The plan was simple: he would get Cassio into a fight with Roderigo ad get the governor of Cyprus injured. Chaos needed to be created: after Cassio was drunk, Iago tells Roderigo to `after the lieutenant go'. The effect was obvious Roderigo would wind up Cassio- and in the state that he was in- he'd forget his usual gallantry. I can't believe how...