In William Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello, Iago the antagonist of the play is one of Shakespeare’s most multifaceted villains. Through deception Iago makes his fellow characters believes he is a true and honest man. All the while he is manipulating and deceiving every single one of them. Iago is not the typical villain one would now see in cinema. He has much more depth and complexity, and can be believed to be amoral; this is what gives his character such prowess.
One of the most brilliantly crafted villains in history, Iago is an incredibly intelligent and creative man who shows throughout the play how apt he is at twisting the truth and turning the facts upside down, using strategies and tactic any politician would envy. Right through the play he demonstrates his ability to harm and destroy people’s lives, all through his brilliant and persuasive word use, which ultimately, is his weapon. He plants ideas in the characters’ heads, causing their minds to fester and warp their thoughts. Iago, who believes he deserves Cassio’s place as Othello’s lieutenant, spends his time plotting, manipulating and scheming. He hates Cassio, and Othello, for choosing Cassio as his Lieutenant. Iago uses a mixture of hints and hesitations to convince Othello that his wife Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio. The protagonist, Othello, is Iago’s foremost victim; he believes that Iago is a man of “of exceeding honesty, knows all qualities, with a learned spirit" [Act III, Scene III].
“There are a kind of men so loose of soul
That in their sleeps will mutter their affairs.
One kind of this is Cassio.
In sleep I heard him say, ‘Sweet Desdemona,
Let us be wary, let us hide our loves.” [Act III, Scene III]
This scene is an excellent example of how Iago lies to Othello, and begins the excessive paranoia Othello starts to experience for the remainder of the play. Iago is constantly building on Othello’s paranoid state of mind and in one case does this by asking his wife, Emilia, who is also Desdemona’s close friend, to ensure the Cassio and Desdemona speak. Iago then makes sure that Othello sees them speaking to one another. This just helps to confirm Othello’s suspicions about his untrustworthy wife. Iago was able to convince Othello that his wife is unfaithful, without any concrete evidence. Credit must be given to such a diabolical character.
Iago takes advantage of his ‘friends’ throughout the entire play, including Cassio and Roderigo and whilst doing so he is constantly working with ulterior motives. Roderigo is a wealthy but dim man who happens to be in love with Desdemona. Of course Iago finds out about this, and manages to use it to his advantage. Iago convinces Roderigo to give him money and jewels that he promises to give to Desdemona and he assures Roderigo that the gifts will make Desdemona leave Othello for him. Iago keeps the money and sells the jewels. Roderigo never directly speaks to Desdemona, so it’s hard to comprehend how Roderigo isn’t...