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The Motives of a Dishonest Man: Iago in Othello Essay

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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 ...


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...g to plan and in fact Iago is fired, however Iago is not happy for he is not in the position he wished to be and he feels that Othello has not suffered enough yet. So again the overall motive of Iago is brought into play, self gain.
Iago builds his reputation, a much needed addition to his already well planned strategic plan. By building an honest reputation the characters of the play have no reason to not believe him. In fact while Iago goes to each character one on one, and tells them how he wants to help them through their struggle and overcome their unlucky situations, they are too trusting of this man. Iago talks to a recently fired Cassio and tells him that he will help him. However, by helping him, he in turn helps himself. He has Cassio play on Desdemona’s love for Cassio as her husband’s employee, and by doing so his lie to Othello seems more truthful.


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