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Iago, the Devil

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by Anna Reckling

In Othello Iago is an important character that has very different relationships with all the characters. Iago’s relationships appears real and truthful, even though Iago is being fake and is using them. Iago uses Roderigo for his plan to bring Othello down. In doing so he has to build trust with Othello, but he does so by telling him lies. Iago even uses his own wife for his plan. Iago uses his relationships with Emilia and Roderigo for his own selfish motives of bringing Othello down.

Othello and Iago’s relationship is built off of lies. Iago wants revenge on Othello, but Othello does not know. He trusts Iago and thinks he is trying to be his friend. He listens to his advice and even calls him Honest Iago (1.3.336-337) “ ‘Tis he! O brave Iago, honest and just,” (5.1.34) Othello believes Iago when he says his wife, Desdemona, is cheating on him with Cassio. He questions it and asks for proof but Iago tells Othello more lies. Even though Othello trusts Iago, Iago does not like Othello. Iago is infuriated by the rumors of Emilia, his wife, sleeping with Othello. Or at the promotion of Cassio, and not him. Iago’s emotions cause him to plot Othello’s downfall. In order to bring Othello down, Iago uses Roderigo as his puppet to implant lies in Othello’s head. Rodrigo gets upset and frustrated that Iago uses him but Iago is still able to reel Rodrigo back in. Iago says he will help Roderigo end up with Desdemona. At the end of the book Iago is done using Roderigo. As Iago kills his puppet, he screams out, “O damned Iago! O inhuman dog!” (5.1.74) Roderigo finally sees that Iago is not who he says he is. Emilia, Iago’s wife, is the one person who sees that Iago is not a kind loyal friend. Iago, like Roderigo, uses Emilia to help him trick Desdemona and Othello. When Iago heard about the Othello and Emilia having an affair he became very angry but does not have a hard time believing this rumor. Throughout the play he seems to imply that Emilia is a whore, whether she really is on or not. Iago disrespects Emilia, yet she still tries to please him, “I nothing but to please his fantasy,” (3.3.343). Emilia tries to please Iago, but he still acts like the devil he is and masterminds his plan to bring Othello down. Emilia finally stands up for herself, when she sees that her mistress, Desdemona, is dead. That only leads to Iago stabbing and killing her. These relationships and actions reveal things about Iago that seem devilish. In the play there are times where Iago even admits to being devilish. “Directly to his good? Divinity of hell! / When devils will the blackest sins put on,/ They do suggest at first with heavenly shows, /As I do now” (2.3.370-374)

Iago uses his own wife and friend to help bring down Othello. Othello, someone who trusted him gets betrayed. Rodrigo someone who helped him implant lies, gets used and ends up dead. Lastly, even his own wife who tried to please him, ends up dying at the sword of her own husband. We the readers wonder, is Iago really doing all of this out of pure jealousy? Or is he doing this because he is purely evil?


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