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William Shakespeare’s “Othello”: Analysis the Play

Iago is no doubt the personification of evil and takes contentment in destroying virtue in him and others. The first and most significant thing we note in Iago is that, in comparison with the other characters of the play, he is highly intellectual and strong –willed. The fundamental attribute of his nature is self-love which dispels all other affections. The theme of revenge is a unvarying one throughout the play William Shakespeare’s play Othello. The dramatist portrayed the theme revenge through the character of Iago. According to Iago revenge is a great source of motivation in his hatred toward Othello.

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Analyzing the play William Shakespeare’s Othello a reader can easily find that the dramatist has presented Iago as powerful and intellectual villain. His motives reveal the profundity of his revenge against Othello and others. Against Othello, Iago suggests three grievances. They are Othello’s act of having sidelined him and promoted Casio to the post of lieutenant, Iago’s suspicion that Othello has been making love to his wife Emilia, and finally his presumption that he is in love with Desdemona.

Iago is fully conscious of his intellectual superiority over others that he has grown contemptuous of the weak wills of others. Igo never betrays his real nature, and not a trace of nervousness is visible in him even in the most dangerous moments of his plot when the least slip would have disastrous consequences. A reader can see this especially when Othello takes him by the throat and when he is attacked in the end. Suspicion, Fear and extreme jealous are the root cause of Iago’s revenge and this forced him to behave like an intellectual devil. Anthony Hughes gives helpful comments to the reader about Iago’s revenge against Othello and his family. The author remarks; “When Othello decides to give the position to Cassio, a younger and less experienced individual, Iago becomes determined to destroy Othello and his family.” (Hughes 4).

The necessity for revenge on Iago’s side compels him to abolish his healthy relation with Othello, the deep affection between Othello and Desdemona, and the love and trust between the young man Casio and Othello. Critics comments that the key catalyst to revenge, as portrayed in Shakespeare, is frequently infidelity. Iago often feels betrayed, so Iago feels a heavy need to precise his revenge. Iago never seen inactive and would never allow pleasures to disturb with his goals. Iago’s motives are reasonable, but they never satisfy Iago himself. Cassio’s promotion sets him to the formation of a secret plan against Cassio and Othello. Love of power and happiness in playing with other’s lives revel Iago’s extreme revenge against Othello.

Iago’s consciousness that he is looked down up on by others for his lack of birth and education coupled d with his intellectual superiority has turned him in to a cynic and a dangerous hypocrite. Iago is poor and married Desdemona’s servant, and is compelled to spend his time with Rodrigo. Iago has climbed the steps of success with his own hard work and effort, but then he realizes his progression checked by his lack of birth and education. This leads him to make uncivilized plot against Othello and Desdemona. When he asked his wife Emilia to take the handkerchief of Desdemona Iago has numerous plans to break the relation between Othello and Desdemona. On can see that Iago does not love villainy for itself or follow evil its own sake, But when he discovers goodness unprofitable he go rounds to evil. Iago’s revengeful nature is and secret plots forced the reader to reach the idea is that he is diabolic intellect who is impelled by’ motiveless malignity’. Wherever Iago sees innocence or goodness, he not only hates them, but also blackens them. According to him self sacrifice is sin, all true love and goodness unbelievable.

Iago has used women for the satisfaction of his revenge against Othello and Cassio. He seeks Emilia’s help to gain his goal, but he does not vacillate to stab her to death. Revenge makes him as a monster and one can see that Iago even forgets his wife. As a great craftsman William Shakespeare gives numerous situations and events which provide convincing reasons to the reader to identify Iago, a revengeful villain in the play Othello. In the opening scene of the play Shakespeare’s Othello one can see that Emilia, Iago’s wife and Roderigo are sheer tools in the hands of the mighty villain Iago. Iago prepares Roderigo like a mortal weapon in his plot against Othello. Iago is envious of all who are more fortunate or better than himself. In case of Iago envy and revenge are interrelated. Incase of other men envy is checked by love, Iago feels no such bounds at all, for he is incompetent of loving. He puts the mask of an honest soldier who is the friend of all. Illegal relation between Othello and Emilia rubs salt on Iago’s revenge. Iago’s words are chosen to torture and he goes on till Othello is tempted to murder his wife Desdemona. Iago invokes the help of the Devil for the success of his wicked plot against Othello. Like Devils Iago put on the appearance of heavenly virtue when the time of advising Cassio for regaining Othello’s favour. Iago’s advise will appear beneficial to Cassio, who without a shadow of suspicion about Iago’s real intentions. It is crystal clear that Iago prepares the plot with maximum perfection that reveals the intensity of his revenge Iago cries; “Divinity of hell, When devils will their blackest sins put on, They do suggest at first with heavenly shows; As I do now.” (Shakespeare 466).

When Iago begins to be successful in his game, he is thrilled at the thought of his victim lying helpless in his hand. In his conversation with Ro derigo, Iago mentions that Othello has avoid his claims to the post of lieutenancy and appointed Cassio unfairly over his head. Iago is able to direct anyone who gets in the way of his plans. Iago uses all the characters to wipe out Othello and take his revenge. This provides endless revenge to the mind of Iago against Othello and Cassio. Iago suspects both Othello and Cassio to have tampered with his wife Emilia. This jealousy seems to be influence him on in his barbarous plot. Iago used trust as an effective weapon for taking his revenge. Shakespeare presented Iago as a very cunning man and he plays the other character5s in the play like a chess board. He uses his different wagers to do the evil action so as to abolish Othello and Desdemona. Iago’s revenge reaches its zenith when he asked Emilia to steal the handkerchief of Desdemona. Then He informs Othello about the handkerchief and pulls him to endless suffering and adversities. All his actions in the play reveal his extreme revenge against the General and his family. His diabolic actions such as advising Cassio, conversation with Desdemona, tempting Othello, friendship with Roderigo and his attitude towards his wife Emilia are the apparent expressions his revenge. Iago is fully aware of his extraordinary ingenuity and he is annoyed at it being unused. The greatest pleasure to such a revengeful person would be something that gave extreme satisfaction to his sense of power; especially it implicated the workings of his abilities. After a deep analysis a reader can see that Iago’s sense of superiority has been offended when Cassio has been promoted over him, and his anger found satisfaction when Cassio and Othello, the very persons who had disrespected it, were subjected to his wish. At the end of the play Iago kills his wife Emilia. One can see that Iago became a mad person because of extreme revenge against Othello.

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Through the given words Iago reveals his revenge against his general Othello. He says that he would follow him as a faithful servant. But he serves Othello not for hi8s master’s sake. He serves for himself.

One can see that Shakespeare gives number of contexts which reveal Iago’s revengeful nature. In the opening scene of the first Act Iago says; ”But I will wear My heart up on my sleeve, For daws peck at: I am not what I am.” (Othello: 1:1:66) It means Iago cannot reveal himself to others. In the same scene He again says; ”In following him I follow but my self— Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty, But seeming so far my peculiar end.” (Othello: 1:1:60-61). Iago serve Othello not for love and duty but for his personal intentions. This also reveals his extreme revenge.

In the second scene of the first Act Iago calls: By Janus, I think no…” (Othello: 1:2:33). Janus is a Roman god with two faces. Like Janus Iago has two faces, one is a faithful servant and other is a revengeful villain.


To conclude, Shakespeare presented the character of Iago as a symbol of evil and revenge. Iago makes others as a weapon for his plot. He uses all his intellect for the success of his wicked plan against Othello. His revenge towards Othello and Cassio makes hi8m a mad person with extreme revenge.

Works Cited

Hughes, Anthony. Revenge in Othello. 2009. Web.

Shakespeare, William. The plays of William Shakespeare, Volume 8: Othello: Act 2. Longman and Co., 1847.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 18). William Shakespeare’s “Othello”: Analysis the Play.

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"William Shakespeare’s “Othello”: Analysis the Play." StudyCorgi, 18 Nov. 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "William Shakespeare’s “Othello”: Analysis the Play." November 18, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "William Shakespeare’s “Othello”: Analysis the Play." November 18, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "William Shakespeare’s “Othello”: Analysis the Play." November 18, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'William Shakespeare’s “Othello”: Analysis the Play'. 18 November.

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