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IAGO. Character. Inherently evil. A villain who is adept at quick-witted improvisation, fashioning his plots out of the materials he has at hand.

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  • Inherently evil.
  • A villain who is adept at quick-witted improvisation, fashioning his plots out of the materials he has at hand.
  • Perhaps Shakespeare’s most evil figure. Has the ability to manipulate all those around him by taking advantage of their trust and using victim’s own motivations and weaknesses to achieve his end.
      • More evil than Macbeth?
      • More evil than Don John?
motivations iago has real grievances
Motivations Iago has real grievances.
  • Cassio was promoted instead of Iago.
  • Believes Othello seduced Emilia.

“I do suspect the lusty Moor hath leaped into my seat.”

  • Believes Cassio seduced Emilia.

“I fear Cassio with my night-cap too.”

  • Is Iago the jealous one?

- Jealous of Cassio?

- Jealous of Othello? Does Iago love Desdemona?

“I do love her too, not out of absolute lust, but partly let to diet my revenge.”

Where else in the play are there references to “eating” and “consuming”?


“Tis not a year or two shows us a man:They are all but stomachs, and we all but food;To eat us hungerly, and when they are full,They belch us. Look you, Cassio and my husband!”

Act 3 Scene 4.

  • IAGO

“O beware, my lord, of jealousy:

It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock Why use the word ‘mock’?

The meat it feeds on.” Act 3 Scene 3.

  • IAGO

“He takes her by the palm. Ay, well said; whisper.

With as little a web as this I ensnare as great a fly as Cassio.” Act 2 Scene 1.

motiveless malignity
Motiveless Malignity
  • This was the opinion of Coleridge.
  • Iago is evil personified and has no motive
  • Iago himself says several times:

“I hate the Moor”

  • In Act V scene ii, Othello asks why Iago ensnared him body and soul, to which Iago replies:

“Demand me nothing: what you know, you know. From this time forth, I shall never speak a word.”

  • Does Iago know his own motivation?
  • Iago could be a demi-devil. He is characterised by the imagery of hell.

“Hell and night must bring this monstrous birth to the world’s light.”

  • Iago essentially gets what he wants in Act III, Scene iii. Why does he not stop here?
believable character
Believable character.
  • Perfected the art of manipulation.
  • Uses others motivations against them;

- Roderigo’s ?

- Cassio’s ?

Exploits peoples strengths and weaknesses;

- Roderigo?

- Cassio ?-


- Othello?

Uses others motivations against them;

- Roderigo’s obsessive love of Desdemona.

- Cassio’s desire to be reinstated as lieutenant and his admiration of Desdemona.

  • Exploits peoples strengths and weaknesses;

- Roderigo loves too much.

- Cassio needs his reputation and can not handle his alcohol.

- Emilia wishes to be on his good side.

- Desdemona is kind and trusting.

- Othello is proud, jealous and insecure.

skilful manipulation of rhetorical skills
Skilful manipulation of rhetorical skills.
  • How does Iago use repetition, leading questions, hesitation, intimation, and rhetorical appeals to unsettle Othello mind in Act 3 Scene 3, 93-280?