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The Misunderstood Iago of Othello Essay

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Shakespearian tales always leave us with a plethora to ponder about the Elizabethan age and Shakespeare himself. “Othello” is no break in this mold, leaving us to ponder the roll of Iago within the harsh tale of love and murder. Iago is the one to tell Othello of his wife’s betrayal with Cassio, hence making up a story that will work to his favor yet betray those around him. Iago betrays his wife, Emilia, but not only her as he drags Othello, Desdemona, and Cassio into the mix of lies and the hatred he is spreading to improve his rank with Othello. But were Iago’s acts unjust and done for the sake of it? Is he a heartless man who’s only happiness is to bring sorrow upon others? No, Iago has a just reason for what he does, even though he causes the deaths of Cassio, Emilia, and Desdemona in his search for revenge; Iago is not a heartless fiend, just a man wronged.
Fred West addresses the fact of Iago misrepresentation, “It is not sufficient to simply drape Iago in allegorical trappings and proclaim him Mister Evil or a Machiavel or a Vice. Such a limited view of Iago is an injustice to the complexity of his character, since Shakespeare’s studies in personality are acclaimed by psychologists for their accuracy and profundity” (27). West seems to be reminding us that just seeing Iago as the representation of evil within the play of “Othello” is the wrong way to paint him. Iago is a man wronged by Othello in the fact that he was not chosen to be Othello’s lieutenant, which is what put the dastardly idea into Iago’s head to trick them all and bring them to their knees. As Iago tells Roderigo within the first act and scene of “Othello”,
Despise me if I do not. Three great ones of the city,/ In personal suit to make me his lieutenant,...


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...n the end of the play. Iago is not really evil or the vice character he is the misunderstood and wonderful character who can only be seen through a certain lens before it all goes back to black and white and good and evil fights one another for the main stage again. Shakespeare pulled many themes into this story but in all truth I believe that Iago is true main character, not Othello or Cassio, but Iago with all of his problems and vices, he is the truest expression of being human.



Works Cited
Rosenberg, Marvin. “In Defense of Iago.” Shakespeare Quarterly. 6.2 (1995): 145-158. JSTOR.
Web. 20 March 2014.
Shakespeare. “Othello Moor of Venice.” The compact Bedford Introduction to Literature. 9 ed.
Michael Meyer. Bedford/St. Martins, 2012. 1187-1267. Print.
West, Fred. “Iago the Psychopath.” South Atlantic Bulletin. 43.2 (1978): 27-35. JSTOR. Web.
20 March 2014.



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