Iago and Angelo as the Hypocrites of Shakespeare's Othello

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Few plot elements inspire such an emotional reaction in readers as does hypocrisy. Not only do readers feel genuine anger at the actions of the hypocritical character, but they also feel deep sympathy for the Hester Prynnes of the stories they read. This tandem of anger and sympathy is a powerful tool for an author to use to draw readers into his or her tale, because creating an emotional response in one’s audience is the best way to make them identify with the story. The response of the readers to these situations is a fascinating one. Perhaps the reader remembers a time when s/he was the victim of a two-faced action. Perhaps stories about hypocrisy evoke a sense of moral outrage or awaken a sense of justice in the reader. Perhaps the…show more content…
Othello has chosen Michael Cassio as his lieutenant, leaving Iago in a lower duty. This bit of history, disguised as background information the story, is really the crux of the whole play, arriving all of the action in the five acts to come. It is superficially important to the story in that it drives Iago’s future actions. However, it is fundamentally important to the idea of hypocrisy because it is the main hypocritical premise on which he acts. Simply put, Iago is upset because he has been passed over for military promotion- a promotion to lieutenant, which would have effectively made him Othello’s right-hand man. One would naturally assume that such an office would require intense valor, amity, and most of all, loyalty. However, he has come to hate Othello for passing him over. It is obvious here that he has no loyalty or amity, despite the valor he may have shown in past battles. Effectively, he criticizes and turns on Othello for not thinking him loyal enough, activities which fundamentally prove his disloyalty. No truly loyal person would develop the resentment and hostility which have taken root strongly in him. This is integral, because it establishes immediately that Iago is a hypocrite. He has been overlooked for a position which he thinks he should have gotten because of his loyalty, but the criticism

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