The Character of Iago from Othello
The character of Iago is crucial for the play, and its essence has often been presented as ‘the evil taking a human form.’ What is important to any attempt to understand this play is the mechanism that makes the action moving forward. If this is ‘the force of evil’, represented in the character of Iago, this gives him the most relevant role, the power to forward the entire course of the play in certain direction. A number of fortunate circumstances helps his plot, and even in the most dangerous moments everything seems to fit his plans. From the beginning the readers (or the audience) are fascinated by this character of ‘a villain’ ; they are, in some way, participating in his plot, being the only spectators of his famous soliloquies in which he reveals (if he ever does) his true face, or at least, the bitter content of his thoughts. He is tormented by hate, jealousy and lust, he creates the self-deception about his own magnitude, his fantasies are lascivious and immature, and yet he is observed with the mixed feelings of repulsion and admiration. Why is this so?
In Othello, as opposed to many other great Shakespeare’s plays, there is no clear indication of a supernatural guiding force directing the course of action. ‘The Fate’ doesn’t seem to be the ally of the positive characters – what’s more, the circumstances are certainly convenient for Iago and his plans. The favorable drop of a handkerchief, the situations in which one word would be enough to destroy the entire ‘construction’ he built; all this was resolved into his advantage. It can almost appear that this is a display of how even those who are in our eyes the most distinguished and noble, must subdue to the irresistible power of ‘the dark fatality’, ruling the world and corrupting the human nature. At the end of the dramatic events there is no feeling of peace descending after the storm, but instead a bitter awareness of how fragile our mind is when facing such utter evil. As Bradley says, it seems ‘as if the Fate has taken sides with the villainy.’ There are no divine forces getting in the way of the course of the play directed by Iago, and this makes the tragedy to follow, inevitably, even more terrible. Pure malice he displays is not being controlled, and it prays on the ‘good’ characters, causing even the downfall of The Noble Moor, Othello.
But how does he succeeds in this – how does Iago makes a man such as Othello , who ’can never be angry’, who is fool of wisdom and experience, and very gentle to his wife, to become a person who hits her, calls her whore, and finally smothers her? What is in Iago’s character that makes him so plausible? The answer to this would require an analysis of Othello’s character as well, but the most important question to be answered is that of an image of Iago in his, as well as in everyone else’s mind, except maybe Emilia and Rodrigo, who are, nevertheless, also deceived, but in some other way....