A Malevolent Villain Essay

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“Malice- a desire to harm others or to see others suffer; intent, without just cause or reason, to commit an unlawful act injurious to another or others” (“malice”). Malicious characters or groups play a central role in many literary works, like the Headless Horseman in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, O’Brien in 1984, and white society in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. These characters threaten, attack, trick, and persecute the main character or another central character within their story. They add to the plot and tension of the work. Another malicious character is Iago, the villain in one of William Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies, Othello. In this play Iago sets out to destroy Othello for multiple reasons, most of which are …show more content…

Othello is a Moor, born in northern Africa. From the beginning of the play Iago voices a hatred for Othello rooted in his race. In Act I Scene I Iago refers to Othello as, “an old black ram,” (90), “…a Barbary horse…” (113), and speaks to the unnaturalness of the union between Desdemona and Othello saying, “…your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs” (116-17). These quotes are all derogatory terms, demeaning Othello and comparing him to an animal. Sixteenth century audiences would have seen this comparison to animals very offensive because at that time the chain of being was very important. The chain of being is a hierarchical order of creation. At the top are humans (reason), followed by animals (motion, sense), plants (growth), and stones (mere existence). Calling Othello a ram and a horse made him less than human in Elizabethan times, expressing Iago’s deep rooted hatred of Othello based on race. When referring to the two backed beast Iago reveals his belief that the marriage of Othello, a Moor, and Desdemona, a Venetian, is unnatural. Later in the play he also says, “Not to affect many proposed matches/ Of her own clime, complexion, and degree, / Whereto we see in all things nature tends-/ Foh! One may smell in such a will most rank, / Foul disproportion, thoughts unnatural” (Act III Scene III, 245-49)
In this quote, Iago says that with all her other options, Desdemona choosing Othello was irrational and unnatural. To

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