"Othello" And The Effects Of Revenge

1620 words - 6 pages

"Revenge... is like a rolling stone, which,when a man hath forced up a hill,will return upon him with a greater violence,and break those bones whose sinews gave it motion."- German Philosopher and 1952 Nobel Prizewinner Albert SchweitzerEnter any shopping center in the United States and you are guaranteed to always find at least one store remotely dedicated to the topic of revenge. Most include a wide variety of "tools" used to exact retribution including phony fecal matter, gum designed to stain your mouth when chewed, a dozen pre-boxed dead roses, and books filled with ideas on how to get the better of people who have "done you wrong". Revenge, an obvious favorite topic of playwright William Shakespeare, is the key motivator of the antagonist, Iago, in Shakespeare's tragedy Othello. After being denied a position he felt was well deserved, Iago goes on a rampage to gain revenge on Othello, his general who denied his promotion and possibly slept with his wife. Throughout the play, though, a change is seen in Iago. Iagos initial motivation for revenge seems to dissipate as the play progresses and slowly moves to a general interest in causing mayhem and disorder to everyone he encounters. Iago eventually appears to release his justifiable reasons for causing chaos and move towards more evil and irrational reasons.Iago's anger and desire for revenge at Othello is apparent from the beginning of the play. It is only in the beginning of the play that Iago appears to be seeking revenge for a reason - the loss of his promotion after his loyalty in battle to Othello. The first act opens with Iago plotting against Othello by discussing with a friend his strategy for unearthing hidden plans for Othello's marriage to wealthy Desdemona without her father's permission. This scene is the first where Iago openly admits that he's seeking revenge against Othello for a reason. "O, sir, content you; I follow him to serve my turn upon him. We cannot all be masters, nor all masters cannot be truly followed. You shall mark many a duteous and knee-crooking knave that, doting on his own obsequious bondage, wears out his time, much like his master's ass, for nought but provender, and when he's old, cashiered. Whip me such honest knaves! Others there are who, trimmed in forms and visages of duty, keep yet their hearts attending on themselves, keep yet their hearts attending on themselves, and, throwing but shows of service on their lords, do well thrive by them, and when they have lined their coats, do themselves homage. These fellows have some soul, and such a one do I profess myself" (I. i. 40 - 54). Iago is expressively saying that the sole reason he continues to appear loyal to Othello is so that he can gain his revenge on Othello for not promoting him by making the moors life miserable in any way that Iago can. Evidence at the end of Act 1 continues to point to Iagos hate still stemming from his sense of betrayal by his friend, Othello. While alone on the stage, Iago...

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