Iago the villain
William Shakespeare, in his play, “Othello the Moor of Venice”, brings to life one of his most complex villains, Iago. Iago plays the ancient of Othello, who is the general of the Venetian forces. As an ancient, Iago is to be a loyal servant to Othello. However, Iago has grown bitter and contempt and uses his supposed loyalty as a wedge to cause Othello’s demise.
It has been said of Iago that he is the devil incarnate or that he personifies the devil (pg. 244) this accusation comes to life as you read the play and discover for yourself that in each scene in which Iago speaks one can point out his deception. It is not clear whether Iago has a master plan or if he is just winged it moment by moment with his ultimate gain in mind. However, what is clear, and what we will point out in the following, is that Iago has the ability to use word play to say the right thing at the right time. He is quick witted and that is what makes him a successful villain.
Iago’s is filled with rage and envy because he was passed over for a position he felt he deserved. Without conscience, Iago vows to take back what he feels is rightfully his by whatever means necessary. As we can see right from the beginning of Act 1, Iago begins to weave his web by revealing his true intentions to Roderigo as he justifies his hatred toward Othello. “O, sir, content you; I follow him to serve my turn upon him.” (Pg. 246, lines 41-42).
Iago snares Roderigo, a man who is in love with Desdemona, by being the barer of bad news that she has just married Othello the Moor. It appears to Roderigo that Iago has his best interest at heart and that he wants to help him to win Desdemona over from Othello. Once Iago gains the trust of Roderigo he convinces him that they must do what is right and tell of Othello’s marriage to Desdemona the senator, her father. Iago accompanies Roderigo to the door of the Senator, Brabantio, and convinces Roderigo to call up to him to tell of this news. Once the senator is waked, Iago flees to tell Othello that trouble is on its way. This was the first clue that he was up to no good.
Toward the end of Act 1, we find Iago and Roderigo speaking again. This time Roderigo is at his rope’s end and is contemplating suicide because of his lost love for Desdemona. Iago tries to reassure Roderigo that it is a matter of time that Desdemona will come to her senses and leave Othello.
In his final soliloquy of Act 1, Iago is stating that he hates Othello and that the only reason he keeps company with him is for his own gain and sport. “For mine own gained knowledge should profane if I would time expend with such a snipe but for my sport and profit” (pg. 254, lines 384-386). . He tells Roderigo of a plan, without stating the specifics, to bring Othello to destruction. Iago feels that he has Othello by the mouth and that he can be led just as a jackass. Othello holds him in high regard and trusts him therefore; he has confidence that his plan will...