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The Motives Of A Dishonest Man: Iago In Othello

2080 words - 8 pages

One of the most outrageous literary vilians of all time is William Shakespeare’s Iago. Iago has been described with many words; villian, antagonist, cruel, selfish, malignant, chaotic, etc. What motivation could one have that would posses them to act in ways to be labeled as such? Are there even any motives present, or is it just the nature of the character that gives Iago his naturaly naughty personality.
Many people see the main motive of Iago’s chaotic nature as the simple fact that he can do it, so he does. This statement is false. The abilities that Iago possesses may incline him to do what he does, however are they his sole purpose? The answer is absolutely not. Carrying a gun around may leave you more inclined to use it, however is that your sole purpose for shooting it? The true motives of Iago are easily visible throughout the play and will be discussed in the latter pages of this composition.
On the topic of motivation it is important to take views from both Iago and his fellow characters. Coleridge, a poet, describes Iago’s character as being one of motiveless malignity. In lamens terms he is declaring that Iago simply has no reguard for motives, no need for them, he simply is evil by nature. This is a broad statement to conclude, especially when so many motives seem so obvious while taking a close look into the composition. However, Coleridge stands strong in his statement and his veiw must be taken into consideration. In William Shakespeare’s work “Othello”, Othello himself labels Iago as “Honest Iago”. Knowing how completely dishonest Iago trully is, this title is very ironic. Yet, knowing that he is not honest, and is infact quite dishonest, it doesn’t seem too far off that Iago may have eceive the audience with his motives. Throughout the play Iago implies and flat out expresses his motivation in creating so much chaos many times however, what if these were simply excuses? Iago could possibly be just as Coleridge said, motiveless, and give an excuse for his motives so he will not appear as cruel. As many evil acts as Iago initiates, it may seem hard to believe that he would lie to the audience who already knows his evil plan, only to make himself seem better. However taking a different approach, as a compulsive liar why wouldn’t Iago lie to the audience? In fact, in Act I lines 57-65, Iago states “I am not what I am.” This statement gives Coleridge an even stronger stand in that now Iago has given the audience a personal testimony.
Yet, no matter how strong Coleridge’s view may seem, it is completely incorrect, the motive is there it just may seem to be hard to see. One thing that can be concluded about Iago is that he is not an honest man, and that Othello has mislabeled him drastically. Iago’s character through a strategic and well planned manipulation process eceive many of the other characters. He uses carefully thought out words and actions to manipulate others to do things in a way that benefits himself, while...

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