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Not So Honest Iago

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by Wesley House

In Shakespeare’s Othello, Iago is the most important character throughout the entire play. The tremendously evil actions that Iago does causes the downfall of other characters, as well as himself. Iago is also the most confusing character throughout the play. He gives no reasons for his evil actions. Iago also seems like an innocent bystander throughout the story. However, in the end he is found as the true villain. In Shakespeare’s Othello, Iago is praised as an honorable hand to Othello, Emilia and Cassio; however, he hates Othello and looks down on the other characters in the play.

Othello and the characters in the play think of Iago as a trustworthy servant to the Moor. “Honest Iago, My Desdemona must I leave to thee: I prithee, let thy wife attend on her And bring them after in the best advantage. (I.I)” Othello has so much trust in Iago, he even addresses him as “Honest Iago” throughout the play. This is ironic on many levels because Othello likes Iago, but Iago hates the general. “Thus do I ever make my fool my purse: For I mine own gain “I hate the Moor: And it is thought abroad, that ‘twixt my sheets.(I.III)” Iago establishes early that he hates Othello only because he feels that he should be the lieutenant instead of Cassio. Cassio was also a man who praised Iago highly, “I have drunk but one cup to-night, and that was craftily qualified too, and, behold, what innovation it makes here: I am unfortunate in the infirmity, and dare not task my weakness with any more. (II.III)”  Once he gets Cassio drunk to the point that he couldn’t walk, Cassio is demoted and Iago is promoted to lieutenant. Still Iago wanted to cause downfall to Desdemona and Othello, even after framing Cassio for an act that Iago caused. Finally, Emilia, over the course of the play, tries to prove herself loyal to Iago. For example, Emilia blindly took the handkerchief without thinking twice before giving it to Iago. She only wanted to prove herself to her demanding husband. Cassio, Emilia, and Othello all thought of Iago as an honest and noble man; however, they do not know how evil he really is.

In Othello, Iago portrays the antagonist who causes terror for Othello, Cassio, Desdemona, and others, without them even knowing it. Even though Iago is extremely evil, he is still very smart. He did not get caught until the end of the story, and even then, he was spared. Iago is a very persuasive man who seems to care for no-one, not even his wife Emilia. In Shakespeare’s Othello, Iago causes death and horror to many of the characters that were close to him.



  1. barskwill says:

    you should say “cause” not “causes” in order to get the subject-verb agreement in the first paragraph


  2. xtaforster says:

    It’s interesting to think about Iago being the most important character, as you say, because he doesn’t think he’s important enough — or seen as important enough — which is why he’s so determined to undermine Othello and Desdemona. You’re implying an interesting irony!!


  3. julianfertitta says:

    Masterfully done, Wes!


  4. binzdewalch says:

    My eyes are blinded by the wonderful piece of art, that is this blog.

    Liked by 1 person

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