Example Of Till I Am Evened With Him, Wife For Wife (II I 295-299) Essay
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IAGO- QUINTESSENCE OF IMPIETY
Othello remains one of Shakespeare’s most popular tragedies and has been translated into various languages. It is the multifaceted character of Iago that provides the main interest in the tragedy of Othello. Iago is the most captivating and sophisticated villain that the whole theatres have seen. Similar to Shakespeare’s Richard III, along with having Machiavellian traits, he is malicious and seems to be innately evil. Iago appreciates listeners like Roderigo, a gull and a simpleton, and sketches his plot lucidly, but at times, he is also inexplicable and enigmatic, especially when he denies speaking towards the end of Othello. Critics consider Iago as a dangerous creature who possesses an isolated groundless brutality and there are several reasons for his plots and plans. Like many other Shakespearean villains such as Edmund in King Lear, he is proficient at sharp sighted impersonation.
It is very important to discuss the motivations of Iago as his character is analysed. His aim to disgrace Cassio is out of professional jealousy and Iago himself discloses the fact that he is individually covetous of the “daily beauty” in the lieutenant’s life. Iago in Act V , Scene I comments:
IAGO: He hath a daily beauty .
No, he must die. But so, I hear him coming (V.i.19-22)
Moreover, Iago suspects his wife, Emilia and strongly presumes that Cassio has performed infidelity with his wife. Iago’s relationship with Roderigo is driven by insensitive avarice that when his “purse” becomes an alarming hassle, he kills him. Iago’s intentions for rescinding Othello’s gladness are also propelled by adverse impulses. He is fully encompassed by sexual jealousy. Iago’s words in Act II Scene I clearly indicate his sense of anger and remorse with Othello:
IAGO: And nothing can or shall content my soul
And because of this bedevilling obsession, Iago decides to use Desdemona’s “goodness” to “enmesh’em all” (II iii 361-62).He is terribly upset with Othello for upgrading Cassio over him. Even though there are no visible explications in the play, there are again two motives such as misogyny and racism to be added to the long list. Iago’s low opinion of women and foreigners suggest his disgust toward them and this clearly indicates that Iago wants to humiliate those he hates. Critics highlight the fact that Iago is impelled to vengeance by feelings of vexation and aversion. He desires to wound Cassio and Othello personally and professionally and longs to see them hurt suffer in the way he suffers. Just like Othello, Iago is extremely proud, but his pride is laced with tricky nastiness whereas Othello is munificent and open. He is also self- contained, self-centred and self-reliant. These potentials help him in his traitorous pursuit.
Iago efficaciously plays a number of roles credibly and is able to acclimatize his tone and style to suit any occasion. He relishes his ability to dupe others into believing he is honest. With Cassio, he is bluff, uncouth and cordial. He offers the lieutenant reasonable pragmatic guidance and adopts a similar concerned approach when he deals with Desdemona. He makes Montano and Lodovico believe that he has Othello’s and the Venetian state’s best interests at heart. He excels in creating a false impression that his dealings are transparent and there is hardly any ego in his relations with all the prime characters. With Emilia and Roderigo, he affords to be less judicious and selfless. His life events portray him as contemptuous, lacklustre and complacent. He happens to speak to his wife genially only when he thinks she has something he wants. He is cold and despicable to her most of the times.
Iago’s relationship with Othello is complex and fascinating and almost all the dealings reveal his real dexterity. He possesses the capability to influence Othello and even the resilient Moor starts speaking and thinking like his trivial, reductive inferior. He ingeniously and devastatingly manoeuvres himself into a position where he is able to poison Othello’s mind scrupulously. Iago plays the part of a puppet master and scrutinises the preys’ failings and blemishes and manipulates him callously. He directs the plot and manages to make alterations according to his whims and fancies. Iago’s debauchery is best revealed when he asks Othello to overhear his conversation with Cassio in Act IV, Scene I:
IAGO: For I will make him tell the tale anew:
Where, how, how oft, how long ago and when
He hath, and is again to cope your wife (IV i 82-7)
There is cruel vulgarity in the words of Iago. He is joyful and resolute as he torments Othello with the specifics of Cassio’s alleged liaison with his wife. His descriptions of incidents mark him as an efficient story teller. Othello gradually becomes Iago’s unwitting audience as well as his puppet. Cassio too gets touched by Iago’s pessimistic and misogynistic outlook. Iago comprehends other’ virtues but identifies them as irrational flaws.
Iago is associated with images of hell and the devil. Iago’s hellish designs flourish in making Othello see Desdemona as devilish and he is truly described as “demi- devil” and “hellish villain”(Act V.2. 298,366). He enjoys his evil acts too much for them to require motives, everything he says or does work absolutely toward the central conflict of the play. He creates evil for the sake of creating evil. As Emilia discovers Iago’s hands behind Othello’s false doubts and the murder of Desdemona, she accentuates Iago’s unscrupulous foul play:
EMILIA: Villainy, villainy, villainy
O villainy, villainy! (V ii 190-193)
Iago’s imagery is euphemistic. Euphemism is the rhetorical expression by which a hostile or belligerent thing is designated by a milder term. Shakespeare endows Othello with the impulsive flow of imagery through poetry. His language is delightful and evocative while the speech of Iago is taciturn and calculative. Othello’s images suggest liberty, vastness, majesty and architectural grandeur. Appallingly enough Iago’s messy vision of life gives vent to contrivance and plotting, scepticism and contradiction. Lytton Strachey points out in Literary Essays:
If Iago had been led to cause the disaster by his love for Desdemona., in that very fact would lie some sort of comfort; the tragedy would have been brought about by a motive not only comprehensible, but in a sense sympathetic; the hero’s passion and the villain’s would be the same(208).
Iago thus becomes the embodiment of unwarranted evil, driven onwards towards ghastly tragedy by an underlying demonic impulse.
Bradley, A. C. Shakespearean Tragedy; Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth,. 2d ed. London: Macmillan, 1905. Print.
Shakespeare, William. Othello the Moor of Venice. Waiheke Island: Floating, 2008. Print.
Strachey, Lytton. Literary Essays. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1969. Print.
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