Why would one say that Iago is the image of evil within this play? “I am not what I am” (Othello,1.
1.64). Iago is speaking to Roderigo in the opening scene while discussing the beginning of his plot to destroy Othello. To the characters within the play, Iago is an honest and trustworthy person who is liked by all.
The audience can easily see through his mask and tell that he is a manipulative and destructive person. From the first conversation that Iago is in, Shakespeare introduces who the character truly is and why he is in the rage that he is in. Iago is clearly the antagonist in this play and from the first few lines anyone can understand the reason for Iago’s cynical plot. From the first scene of the play Iago demonstrates three of the seven deadly sins: envy, greed, and pride. They all are shown within the same monologue. Iago is seen as “honest Iago” throughout the entire play, but he actually exemplifies the existence of evil. Othello, the protagonist, chose Michael Cassio to be his lieutenant over Iago.
Which is the cause that sprung Iago’s resentment towards Othello. The fact that Iago views Othello as a god of war, and being that Othello chose Cassio over Iago makes him feel as if he were nothing. “His religion is war.” (Bloom, 1) This shows that Iago is remarkably obsessed with his ranking within the military; that he praises war and everything that exists within it. Being extremely manipulative as Iago is, he ended up tricking himself towards the end of the play. He worked on destroying Othello so much that he ended up taking his entire life away. “For that I do suspect the lusty Moor/ Hath leaped into my seat; the thought whereof/ Doth, like a poisonous mineral, gnaw my inwards;/ And nothing can or shall content my soul/ Till I am evened with him, wife for wife.
” (2.1.280-284) This begins to show the downfall of Iago’s mind for thinking that Othello and Emilia are sneaking around.
With that said, like every evil character, Iago ended up shattering his own mind by the end of the play. The sense of evil within Iago can be seen throughout the entire drama. From the first dialogue, to the last act, the audience is able to see how vile Iago can be. Within the first words spoken by him, one can tell that Iago spends all of his time to destroy Othello’s life. The first scene is dedicated to showing how Iago is going to begin his devilish plot to get Othello to break down.
Not only did Iago commit three of the seven deadly sins, but he also broke two of the Ten Commandments. The two he broke were thou shalt not steal, and thou shalt not murder. The handkerchief, which played an important part, was dropped and Emilia found it. Being that she and Iago were married, she gave it to him to please him. Though she did not know the importance of it. Now, in reality, that is a sense of stealing especially since he knew who it belonged to and did not make an effort to return it. He eventually used it to make his plot even more deadly.
The next commandment he broke, thou shalt not murder, was violated at the end of the play. Emilia eventually unmasked Iago for who he really was, and he ended up stabbing her then made his escape. Iago did not only murder Emilia, but he also stabbed Roderigo after he failed to slay Cassio.
Being the manipulative character that he is, anyone can see that this adds to his wickedness. Since Cassio is a good looking person and his life is good, Iago begins to contemplate that this makes him uglier than he actually is.“He hath a daily beauty in his life that makes me ugly”(5.1.19-20) Envy is a key factor that led to the death of several main characters.
Since Iago is who he is, the demise of Othello, Desdemona, Emilia, and Roderigo occurred before the end of the play. Iago begins to be envious of Cassio as the play begins because Cassio was promoted instead of himself. To be broader of the situation, Iago is even more jealous of Othello than he is of Cassio. He would rather have Othello’s position in war and for having a beautiful woman. He begins to feel lust for Desdemona as the play goes on.
He also believes that he deserves Cassio’s ranking. This instance shows how Iago has too much pride on his shoulders. He gets extremely upset considering the fact that he was the one to not get the promotion. “Oh, beware, my lord, of jealousy!”(3.3.
165) Iago is speaking to Othello at this point in the play which is ironic because Iago is the one who is jealous throughout the entire drama. “For that….wife for wife” (2.1.
280-284) This quote from Iago adds to his jealousy of Othello. Since he created the idea of Othello and Emilia, he has started to gain an extreme amount of jealousy that he wants to be with Desdemona now. “Iago’s motiveless malignity, by contrast, is envy to just the extent to which it detaches.