There are many possible explanations for why Iago is evil. Some people believe that Iago is simply jealous of Othello and wants to take revenge. Others think that Iago is motivated by power and greed.
It’s also possible that Iago is simply a sociopath who enjoys causing pain and chaos. Whatever the reason, there’s no denying that Iago is one of the most evil characters in all of Shakespeare’s plays.
In Shakespeare’s, Othello, the reader is given a standard struggle between good and evil’s deceptive powers. It is these forces of evil that ultimately destroy Othello, a brave Venetian moor known to the people of Venice as a honorable soldier and worthy leader. Othello’s collapse leads to the death of his wife Desdemona. Desdemona is an image of goodness in nature. Goodness can be defined as compassionate, truthful, innocent, and unsuspecting.
Iago is Othello’s ensign yet he resents Othello for passing him over for a promotion. Iago is consumed by envy and revenge and it is this that causes him to plot Othello’s downfall.
While Othello remains blissfully ignorant of Iago’s plans, the audience is fully aware of the danger Othello is in. Iago is successful in his plots due to his talent for deception. He hides his true intentions behind a mask of honesty and loyalty, gaining Othello’s trust.
Iago then begins to sow the seeds of doubt in Othello’s mind, convincing him that Desdemona has been unfaithful. Iago’s evil is further shown when he manipulates Othello into believing that his wife is sleeping with his lieutenant, Cassio. Othello then kills Desdemona in a fit of rage, only to realise too late that he has been deceived.
Iago is successful in his plot against Othello because he is able to take advantage of Othello’s weaknesses. Othello is a proud man and Iago exploits this by making Othello believe that he has been wronged. Iago also knows that Othello is quick to anger and so he purposely provokes Othello into committing murder. Iago is a master of deception and his evil nature is what ultimately leads to Othello’s downfall.
Iago is a sly, untrustworthy rogue who plots to achieve his goal at all costs. He uses these characteristics to his advantage by carefully planning his own success while observing the destruction of others. It is because of this that Iago is driven. The triumph of evil over good, in the end. Not only does it come naturally to him as a malevolent being, but he also takes advantage of Othello’s jealousies and devotion to appearances. To overcome Desdemona, Iago utilizes her flaws – specifically her jealousy and trust in appearances – to defeat her rival.
This puts Othello in a difficult position as he must defend his marriage to Desdemona. Iago later tells Othello that Cassio has been bragging about sleeping with Desdemona. Othello believes Iago and, in a rage, strips Cassio of his rank as lieutenant. Iago’s next plan is to have Michael Cassio killed in a street fight but the plan backfires and Roderigo is killed instead.
Iago then tells Othello that if he kills Desdemona it will look like she was unfaithful. Othello agrees and smothers her in their bed. In the end, Iago’s lies and manipulation are revealed and he is arrested. Othello, realizing the truth too late, kills himself. Iago’s final soliloquy reveals his true nature as he states that he did all of this for no other reason than his own amusement and enjoyment.
Iago continues his sinister plot effortlessly, fooling others and himself in the process. Except for Roderigo, no one is aware of Iago’s intentions. This is due to Iago’s attempt to appear as a trustworthy and loyal subordinate. Because Othello believes Iago to be trustworthy and honest, the malevolent energy within him creates the perfect unsuspecting victim for his machinations. One temptation that Iago cannot refuse is getting access to Desdemona through Othello.
Iago’s first successful scheme is the one in which he makes Othello jealous of his own wife by planting the handkerchief that Othello had given to Desdemona in Cassio’s lodgings. Iago knows that Othello values the handkerchief highly because it was given to him by his mother and has special meaning to him. When Othello sees the handkerchief in Cassio’s hands, Iago tells him that it must have come from Desdemona and that she must be having an affair with Cassio.
Othello, already prone to jealousy, believes Iago and his suspicions are confirmed when later he overhears a conversation between Cassio and Desdemona in which Cassio says that he would give anything to have a woman love him as much as Othello loves Desdemona. Iago has succeeded in making Othello doubt his wife’s fidelity.
Iago’s next scheme is the one in which he gets Othello to believe that Desdemona is trying to poison him. Iago tells Othello that he saw Cassio talking to Desdemona and that she was giving him something. When Othello asks what it was, Iago says that he doesn’t know, but it must have been poison because Cassio looked scared when he saw Iago watching them. Othello, again susceptible to jealousy and suspicions, believes Iago and starts to think that Desdemona is trying to poison him.
In order to arouse Othello’s jealousy, he gives the impression that Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio. It is this ire and Othello’s obliviousness that lead to Desdemona’s downfall; she was the play’s only truly nice person. We are introduced to Iago’s hatred for Othello from the start of the play. Instead of lieutenant, Iago has been assigned the post of servant to Othello.
Iago is Othello’s standard-bearer. Iago is a solider who has fought alongside Othello and feels he should have been promoted instead of Cassio.
Iago’s resentment towards Othello and Cassio leads to his Machiavellian scheming throughout the play. He is determined to take revenge on Othello and Cassio by causing them as much pain as possible. Iago is willing to do anything, no matter how evil or manipulative, to achieve his goals. He lies, cheats, and schemes his way through the play, always staying one step ahead of everyone else. His ultimate goal is to destroy Othello’s life, both professionally and personally.
Iago is successful in causing Othello a great deal of pain. He manipulates Othello into believing that his wife Desdemona is cheating on him with Cassio. Othello, consumed by jealousy, ends up killing Desdemona. Iago also causes Cassio to lose his position as lieutenant. In the end, however, Iago’s evil deeds catch up with him and he is exposed and arrested. Othello, realizing he has been duped, kills himself.
Othello is caught in the middle of these two extreme worlds. Othello, who Iago has already decided to take down, is very trusting. Othello entrusts Iago with his elopement plans with Desdemona and he also gives him Cassio’s lieutenancy. This act shows how much Othello trusts Iago and believes that he is an honest man.
Iago plays on Othello’s trust and uses it against him. Iago tells Othello that Cassio confessed his love for Desdemona to him. Of course, this is a complete lie but Othello trust Iago and believes him. Othello then falls into Iago’s trap and loses control.
Othello becomes consumed by jealousy and his trust in Iago turns into hate. Othello then takes Iago’s advice and decides to kill Desdemona, the one person who was truly good in this story. Othello later realizes that he has been tricked by Iago and that Iago is evil. Othello says, “From this time forth /I never will speak word” (V.ii.353-354). Othello recognizes his mistake in trusting Iago and pays the ultimate price for it.
Iago’s motivation for ruining Othello’s life is never fully clear but it could be argued that he is envious of Othello’s success. Iago may also be motivated by race. Othello is a Moor and Iago may feel that he is Superior to Othello because of his skin color. Iago could also be motivated by the fact that Othello has a higher social status than him. Whatever Iago’s motivation is, it is clear that he is evil and will stop at nothing to destroy Othello’s life.