Iago the Con Perhaps the mostinteresting and exotic character in the tragic play “Othello,”by William Shakespeare, is “Honest” Iago. Through somecarefully thought-out words and actions, Iago is able tomanipulate others to do things in a way that benefits him andmoves him closer toward his goals. He is the main drivingforce in this play, pushing Othello and everyone else towardstheir tragic end.
Iago is not your ordinary villain. The role heplays is rather unique and complex, far from what one mightexpect. Iago is smart. He is an expert judge of people andtheir characters and uses this to his advantage.
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For example,he knows Roderigo is in love with Desdemona and figuresthat he would do anything to have her as his own. Iago saysabout Roderigo, “Thus do I ever make my fool my purse.”Act I, Scene III, Line 355 By playing on his hopes, Iago isable to swindle money and jewels from Roderigo, makinghimself a substantial profit, while using Roderigo to forwardhis other goals. He also thinks quick on his feet and is ableto improvise whenever something unexpected occurs. WhenCassio takes hold of Desdemona’s hand before the arrival ofthe Moor Othello, Iago says, “With as little a web as this willI ensnare as great a fly as Cassio.” Act II, Scene I, Line163 His cunning and craftiness make him a truly dastardlyvillain indeed. Being as smart as he is, Iago is quick torecognize the advantages of trust and uses it as a tool toforward his purposes. Throughout the story he is commonlyknown as, and commonly called, “Honest Iago.
” He evensays of himself, “I am an honest man….” Act II, Scene III,Line 245 Trust is a very powerful emotion that is easilyabused. Othello, “holds him well;/The better shall Iago’spurpose work on him.
” pg. 1244, Line 362 Iago is amaster of abuse in this case turning people’s trust in him intotools to forward his own goals. His “med’cine works! Thuscredulous fools are caught..
..” pg. 1284, Line 44 Iagoslowly poisons people’s thoughts, creating ideas in theirheads without implicating himself. “And what’s he then thatsays I play the villain, when this advice is free I give, andhonest,” Act II, Scene III, Line 299 says Iago, the masterof deception. And thus, people rarely stop to consider thepossibility that old Iago could be deceiving them ormanipulating them, after all, he is “Honest Iago.” Iago makesa fool out of Roderigo. In fact, the play starts out with Iagohaving already taken advantage of him.
Roderigo remarks,”That thou, Iago, who hast had my purse as if the stringswere thine.” Act I, Scene I, Line 2 Throughout the play,Iago leads Roderigo by the collar professing that he “hate(s)the Moor” Act I, Scene III, Line 344 and telling Roderigoto “make money” Act I, Scene III, Line 339 so that he cangive gifts to Desdemona to win her over. During the wholeplay however, Iago is just taking those gifts that Roderigointends for Desdemona and keeps them for himself.Roderigo eventually starts to question Iago’s honesty, saying”I think it is scurvy, and begin to find myself fopped in it.”Act IV, Scene II, Line 189 When faced with thisaccusation, Iago simply offers that killing Cassio will aid hiscause and Roderigo blindly falls for it, hook, line, and sinker.
“I have no great devotion to the deed, and yet he has givenme satisfying reason,” Act V, Scene I, Line 8 says the foolRoderigo. And with this deed, Roderigo is lead to his deathby the hands of none other than, “Honest Iago.” Cassio, likeRoderigo, follows Iago blindly, thinking the whole time thatIago is trying to help him.
And during this whole time, Iago isplanning the demise of Cassio, his supposed friend. On thenight of Cassio’s watch, Iago convinces him to take anotherdrink, knowing very well that it will make him very drunk.Cassio just follows along, though he says, “I’ll do’t, but itdislikes me.” Act II, Scene III, Line 37 Iago is able tomake him defy his own reasoning to take another drink!Crafty, is this Iago.
When Roderigo follows through with theplan Iago has set on him, Cassio is made to look like anirresponsible fool, resulting in his termination as lieutenant.After this incident, Iago sets another of his plans in motionby telling Cassio to beg Desdemona to help his cause,saying, “she holds it a vice in her goodness not to do morethan she is requested.” Act II, Scene III, Line 287 Andthus, Cassio is set on a dark path which leads to trouble andmischief. Yet, Cassio follows it blindly telling Iago, “Youadvise me well.
” Act II, Scene III, Line 292 With this,Cassio is eventually led into a trap where Roderigo maimshim, and all that time, Iago – his friend – is behind it all.Lowly Iago, is capable of anything – not even Othello is safefrom this villain. Othello holds Iago to be his close friend andadvisor. He believes Iago to be a person, “of exceedinghonesty, who knows all qualities, with learned spirit ofhuman dealings.” Act III, Scene III, Line 257 Yes, he doesknow all about human dealings, but no he is not honest.
Heuses the trust Othello puts in him to turn Othello eventuallyinto a jealous man, looking everywhere