Villainous Iago of Shakespeare's Othello Essay

1841 Words 8 Pages
Villainous Iago of Othello

Who can compare in depth of evil to the villainous Iago in William Shakespeare’s tragic drama Othello? His villainy is incomparably destructive on all of those around him.

Iago’s very language reveals the level at which his evil mind works. Francis Ferguson in “Two Worldviews Echo Each Other” describes the types of base, loathsome imagery used by the antagonist Iago when he “slips his mask aside” while awakening Brabantio:

Iago is letting loose the wicked passion inside him, as he does from time to time throughout the play, when he slips his mask aside. At such moments he always resorts to this imagery of money-bags, treachery, and animal lust and violence. So he expresses his
…show more content…
It also shows his ability to make things happen: he has infuriated Brabantio. The remainder of the scene shows the consequences of his speech, its power to inspire action. Iago is thus revealed as both an instigator and a man of crude sensibilities. (123)

David Bevington in William Shakespeare: Four Tragedies enlightens us on the ancient:

Iago’s machinations yield him both “sport” and “profit” (1.3.387); that is, he enjoys his evildoing, although he is also driven by a motive. This Vice-like behavior inhuman garb creates a restless sense of a dark metaphysical reality lying behind his visible exterior. Even his stated motives do not always make sense. When in an outburst of hatred he soliloquizes that “I hate the Moor; / And it is thought abroad that twixt my sheets / He’s done my office,” Iago goes on to concede the unlikelihood of this charge. [. . .] The charge is so absurd, in fact, that we have to look into Iago himself for the origin of this jealous paranoia. (223)

And looking within Iago for the cause can yield the answer that the ancient is psychologically sick. In Shakespeare’s Four Giants Blanche Coles comments on the mental illness that appears to afflict the despicable Iago:

When such old time critics as H. N. Hudson, who wrote nearly a hundred years ago, saw that
Open Document