Iago In Othello

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Iago is arguably Shakespeare’s most sophisticated villain and quite possibly the most infamous villain of all time. He has even been named an “artist of evil” (bloom). In Othello he spends the entire play manipulating the other characters, convincing them of fabrications that he created and ultimately leading them to their death. Iago’s capacity for cruelty seems limitless yet is he immoral due to his enjoyment and passion for evil, or are his continuous abilities to justify his actions to the audience worthy enough to label him as amoral, without moral qualities and not being able to differentiate between right or wrong?

Iago’s Duplicity of Character Act 1 scene 1 starts off with and argument as Roderigo has paid Iago a large amount of money in exchange for Iago’s help with making Desdemona fall in love with him. However, they are now aware that she and Othello, a general, have eloped. In this scene Iago discusses his true nature when he says,

“Others there are who, trimmed in forms and visages of duty,
Keep yet their hearts attending on themselves
And, throwing but shows of service on their lords,
Do well thrive by
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1.3.394) in his soliloquy shows duality in a sense of the apparent moral Iago contrasting with the actual immoral Iago. It further reinstates the idea of a façade which implies that Iago is the opposite of what he appears to be. Another example of this is his use of night and light at the end of his soliloquy. This adds to the idea of the duality of his character as he continues to show images of juxtaposing ideas to imply that his two moral characters are the complete opposite of each other. ‘Hell and night must bring this monstrous birth to the light’ (Shakespeare, Othello , 1802, pp. 1.3.403-404) confirms Iago’s need to cause chaos through the word ‘must’ as it implies that it is something he feels obliged to do as if it is his duty to cause
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