Essay on Analysis of Othello's Iago, The Perfect Villain

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How does one create the perfect villain for a story? What qualities are needed in such a character? A good place to start when constructing a villain is to look at William Shakespeare’s villain in Othello, a man called Iago. Iago is wonderfully devious. Throughout the play, he not only poisons Othello’s vision of Desdemona, he does this with no one, excepting Roderigo, the wiser. There are several reasons that make Iago such a terrifying villain. Shakespeare gave certain qualities to his creation that made Iago more than just a evil character. These qualities transform Iago into the truly insidious character seen in the play. From the beginning of Othello to the time that Iago is revealed as the culprit, everyone trusts Iago and looks to him for advice. This gives Iago the means and opportunity to pull off his villainy.
Othello has had Iago as his ensign for many years. They have gone to battle many times over. In war, every little thing can affect the outcome, everything is vital information. During this time, Othello, when he was upset or unsure of what to do, has learned to trust and listen to Iago’s insights about strategy and war. Othello shows that his trust in Iago extends beyond the battlefield when he asks Iago to take care of his wife during the voyage to Cyprus. It’s this trust that backfires on him. When Othello hears Iago’s off hand remark about Cassio, he trusts that Iago would not have said anything if it wasn’t something to worry about. Then, Iago, knowing how Othello thinks of his character, makes Othello think there is more to his thoughts than he is willing to speak of. Iago knows just what to say and how to articulate it to make Othello think the worst. He even manages to look like a friend who wants to keep...

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...ted something was wrong with Iago’s wanting to devastate Othello when Iago changes his story. At first, Iago cites his rage about being passed over for the promotion to lieutenancy as his reasoning for hating Othello. Then, his rage is suddenly the result of suspecting Emilia and Othello of having had an affair, not because of the promotion that he did not receive. When Roderigo calls Iago out on his change in motivations. Iago lulls Roderigo into believing that there is just one more thing standing in the way of Roderigo having Desdemona.
Iago understands how to use people. He knows what to say and how to act to influence people’s actions. This is way he is such a terrifying villain. The character of Iago is the perfect mould to start with when crafting the perfect villain.
Shakespeare, W. 7th Ed., 1966 ‘Othello, the Moor of Venice’, Plain Label Books

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