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Character Analysis Essay: Iago And His Reasons For Revenge

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Iago and His Reasons for Revenge
In the play Othello, The Moor of Venice by Shakespeare, Iago is one of the most controversial characters. His motivation for manipulating and directly or indirectly killing the majority of the characters is never quite clear, and his reasons seem to shift from page to page. However, when his actions and words are taken as a whole, it becomes apparent. Iago is motivated by a deep sense of jealousy and rage toward Othello and Cassio, not for anything that they did, but for who they are. When it becomes clear that he is neither motivated by military ambition or jealously over Emilia, this is one of the only theories that is plausible.
The most commonly cited explanation for Iago’s jealousy is his military ambition.
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Besides the idea that Iago is in love with Desdemona, which is mentioned exactly once, dismissed in the same sentence, and makes even less sense than the last two theories, there is no other easily proven idea. There is nothing else that Iago says, that can be pointed to as definite, objective proof of a certain motivation. All that is left are hunches. To the credit of hunches, though, some are more probable than others. One such hunch is that Iago is jealous of Othello and Cassio for accomplishing more than him in life, and is simply taking out his anger in the most destructive and evil way he knows how. This should not be confused with the first point, which was that Iago is jealous of Cassio for becoming lieutenant instead of him. Iago knows that he does not deserve the lieutenancy, and that is why he is jealous. Early on in the play, Iago mentions how “Preferment goes by letter and affection, and not by old gradation, where each second stood heir to th’ first” (I.1.38-40). It can be inferred from this that Cassio is younger than him, or at least joined the army later. It pains Iago that Cassio, who is less experienced than him, and Othello, who has the handicap of being black in a racist society, have both had more successful lives than him. Manipulating people to accomplish a goal, even one that does not directly benefit him, makes Iago feel smart. It is his way of feeling successful without any…show more content…
Once the theories of being motivated by military ambition and jealousy from being cheated on are refuted, this is one of the few possibilities left. This particular view of the text highlights how mentally ill Iago is. It is impossible to diagnose somebody with psychopathy or sociopathy from a play, but not many people would decide to kill everyone around them from feelings of inferiority. In the end, Iago gets nothing out of his revenge on the world. His wife and boss and only friend are all dead, his rival is promoted to general, and he is sent off to be tortured. As an allegory of revenge, it does not seem very
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