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 …show more content…
That fact in and of itself should make Cassio weary of Iago. Added to that, Iago influences Cassio to drink more alcohol than Cassio can handle. This leads to the fight between Cassio and Roderigo. During this time Iago poisons Montano’s impressions of Cassio by telling him, “I fear the trust Othello puts in him,”(II.iii.120). Iago also says alcohol “‘Tis evermore the prologue to his sleep.”(II.iii.123). Iago, again, uses Othello’s trust in his character. Othello, when he finally gets the story from Iago, is blinded by Iago’s “honesty and love” and says that these “doth mince [his judgement in] this matter,/ making it light to Cassio.”(II.iii.241-242). Nevertheless, Cassio asks for and acts on advice from Iago. This advice is the crucial mandate that ensures Iago will be able to plant the seed of doubt in Othello’s mind. Then, there is the matter of Othello’s wife, Emilia. One would think that being so close to Iago, she would know something of his deceitful nature. However, she is continuously hoodwinked by her husband. She seems to know nothing of his supposed rage toward Othello at being overlooked for the promotion to lieutenant. She also believes him when he pretends to be upset over Cassio’s demotion from lieutenancy. She says thus to Desdemona, “I warrant it grieves my husband/ As if the cause were his.” (III.iii.3-4). Later, she finds her lady’s