Iago's Cruelty In Othello

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Often it is the dark side of human nature that brings a story to life, and there is no sounder proof of this than William Shakespeare’s masterpiece Othello. The tragedy of the Moor of Venice is inflicted by the cruelty of Iago, perhaps one of the most intriguing antagonists in literary history. Iago’s cruelty is a defining element of the play, in that it pushes the plot forward as the trigger for all of the major actions throughout the story, serves as the cause of the cruelty of others around him, and reveals the character of each person in the play through their responses to his cruelty.

The action of the entire play is centered around Iago’s various acts of cruelty. His goading of Roderigo to start a brawl with Cassio, his advice to Cassio
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The cruelty Iago is able to incite in Othello and Roderigo reveals their deep passions and overwhelmingly trusting natures. The fact that Othello is so vulnerable and susceptible to Iago’s poisoning sheds light on his lurking insecurities about age, race and appearance, which Othello is ultimately unable to ignore. Likewise, Roderigo’s willingness to sacrifice all money and morals by Iago’s bidding reflects his naive passions and an overall lack of personal strength. In stark contrast with Othello and Roderigo, Desdemona, the primary victim of Iago’s cruelty and yet the only one who dies completely unaware of it, turns out, somewhat ironically, to be the only one whose inner self is completely unaffected by Iago. On the eve of her death, even after being horribly mistreated by Othello, she firmly upholds her values of loyalty and obedience, and her belief that no woman would ever wrong her husband. This reveals in part her naivety to the point of foolish ignorance that she met her downfall with, but more importantly, the incorruptible purity and innocence that Desdemona

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