Othello – Honest IagoThe most interesting and round character in the tragic play Othello, byWilliam Shakespeare, is “honest” Iago. Through carefully though-out wordsand actions, Iago manipulates others to do things in which he benefits.Iago is the main driving force in “Othello,” pushing several characterstowards their tragic end.
Iago is not a traditional villain for he plays a unique and complexrole. Unlike most villains in tragic plays, evidence of Iago’s deceptionis not clearly visible. Iago is smart and an excellent judge of peopleand their characters. He uses this keen sense of knowledge to hisadvantage. For example, Iago knows that Roderigo has feelings forDesdemona and assumes he would do anything to have her as his own. Iagoattempts to manipulate Roderigo by saying:It cannot be that Desdemona should long continue her love to the Moor-put money in thy purse- nor he his to her: It is a violent commencement,and thou shalt see and answerable sequestration; put but money in thypurse.[Act I, Scene III].By playing on Roderigo’s hopes, Iago swindles money and jewels fromRoderigo, making himself a substantial profit. Iago also says, “Thus do Iever make my fool my purse” [Act I, Scene III] once Roderigo has left.”Honest” Iago cleverly disguises his own goals as Roderigo blindlyfollows him.
Iago continually operates with alterier motives in “Othello.” Iago takesadvantage of his friendships with Cassio as well as Roderigo. Cassioblindly follows Iago, thinking the entire time that Iago is trying tohelp him. During this whole time, Iago plans the demise of Cassio, hissupposed friend. In order to obtain Cassio’s position as lieutenant, Iagoconvinces Cassio to take another drink, knowing very well that it willmake him drunk and disgrace him. Iago obviously tries to tarnish Cassio’s character when he says, “What, man! ‘Tis a night of revels: the gallantsdesire it” [Act II, Scene III]. Iago is able to make Cassio defy his ownreasoning and reluctantly take another drink. As a result of his deviousscheming, Iago’s achieves his goal and Othello terminates Cassio as hislieutenant. Iago successfully manipulates the people around him bybuilding a trust, a trust in which all of Iago’s victims believe to be anhonest trust.
The friendship and honesty Iago falsely imposes upon Othello makes iteasy for Othello to never imagine the possibility that Iago has evilmotives. Othello holds Iago as his close friend and advisor. He believesIago to be a person, “of exceeding honesty, [who] knows all qualities,