Exploring Iago's Possible Motives in Shakespeare's Othello Essay

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Iago is undoubtably the villian in William Shakespeare's 'Othello', however the reason behind his evil deeds are less clear. There are many possibilities as to why Iago betrayed his superior Othello. Was he simply envious of Othello's status or did Iago plot to destroy Othello for his own enjoyment?

In act One, scene one we see Iago's conversation with Roderigo about Cassio being promoted ahead of him and how Iago believes that this is because of favourtism. This suggests one of many reasons why Iago plots against Othello. From this conversation we see that Iago is envious of Cassio being promoted ahead of him, and plotting against Othello as a means of seeeeking revenge. “I follow him to serve my turn upon him”. Iago believes that he
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But not only this, he goes on to say that he believes that Othello has had sex with his wife, Emilia “Hath leaped into my seat”. In this silioquy Iago shares the beginning of his plan, to make Othello so jealous with the idea that Cassio and Desdemona are having an affair “jealousy so strong that judgement cannot cure”. However because of the reasons he put forward to Roderigo earlier in the play, we cannot be sure that Iago is telling the truth to the audience, even though he is seen to be confiding in the audience with his master plan. Through the use of this silioquy, and the others in the play, Shakespeare creates dramatic irony, where the audience know more about what is happening than the characters themselves do. This assists his portrayal of Othello as a tragic hero, as the audience is able to see his fatal flaw, and learn the devastating result because of it.

The two passages I have looked at share just some of the possible motives for Iago's master plan. It has been suggested that Iago is motiveless maliginty, meaning that he has no real motive for destroying both Othello's reputation and chance for happiness with Desdemona. This could be explained in act five, scene two when Othello asks “why he hath ensnared my soul and body?” and Iago refuses to answer “I will never speak word”. This suggests he has no motive for his actions and may have acted out of pure entertainment. Another explaination for Iago's motives is that he is the devil incarnate. This
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