Iago In Shakespeare's Othello Essay

1727 words - 7 pages

William Shakespeare's Othello is a remarkable tale of trust, deceitfulness, lust and the most destructive of human emotions: vengeance and hatred. Iago better known as Othello's antagonist embodies vengeance and hatred to move an agenda to squash all who oppose Iago's plans. As defined by Merrium-Webster the definition of a protagonist is a principal character in a literary work or a leading actor, character, or participant in a literary work. Othello by Shakespeare is a play about Othello an example of a tragic hero with all figures centered around Othello as the protagonist yet, Othello has two main leading characters. Iago and Othello have stark contrasts as leading roles and different themes represented through the actions, words, and moral compass of both characters. As Othello plays out the audience finds that Iago is the driving force behind Othello and the cause for all chaos. Iago's thirst for vengeance due to feeling dissatisfied and passed over potential lieutenant position pushes Iago to ruin the lives of all associated with Othello. The thirst for vengeance drives Iago as Iago drives the plot achieving all goals and because of this Iago is the true protagonist of Othello.
Few characters in Shakespeare's plays outside of the leading "main" character ever are associated to actively pursue an agenda that destroys other characters lives. Charles III is well known as a Shakespearean bringer of chaos and Machiavellian figure however, he is dwarfed by Iagos malevolent nature. Iago is complex character that seeks the utter destruction of Othello emotionally and physically. Iago as a character is manipulative and secretive only revealing his inner workings to his audience through soliloquy and demonstrating his deceitful nature stating "I am not what I am"(Act 1 Scene 1). Iago pretends to wear his heart on his sleeves and creates this persona that only wants what is best for the group in general. However, this quote from the first scene foreshadows Iago's deceitful mindset throughout the play and opens the theme for Iago; to lie, cheat, and steal for the end justify the means. As a masterful leading machiavellian character Iago exploits the flaw all characters poses in Othello which is faith versus doubt in others. A powerful role to mold an entire play behind the goal of a singular entity under the eyes of a scholar qualifies as a protagonist( Hull). Iago breaks the boundaries that define antagonist or protagonist by being complex enough and having enough lines that place him on par if not above Othello (West 42 ). The main flaw in the protagonist argument is how Iago is a static character without any clear transformation. Evidence from his lack of change exist in act one and to the final act is continuously lying and trying to create chaos. Antagonist or protagonist Iago's actions qualify as morally wrong when usually a protagonist that drives the plot is working for good; however, by definition a protagonist is not inertly of good moral...

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