Human Evil in Othello
What holds us back from being wicked? What power impedes us from killing, stealing, and harming others? Most would state there is the sense of regret and possible punishment, however regardless, they say that they still would never ever commit these offenses even with the effects not present. This is not real, we overestimate our real empathy and to be evil is simply a matter of being chastised; and with a lack of penalty, we would all be much more evil than we envision. In Shakespeare’s Othello, we tend to empathize with Othello, the sincere Moor, in spite of being much more similar to Iago.
We wish to think of that Othello’s actions are humanity, but deep down we comprehend Iago’s behavior. Iago’s motivations for monetary gain through the browbeating of Roderigo make him definitely more human than Othello. Possibly we automatically recognize the most with Iago’s perseverance to claim revenge on Othello. Lastly, Iago is encouraged to dispose of Cassio and claim his position of power. Regardless of Shakespeare’s manipulation of our feelings towards Iago, he is the one we should be relating to, for Iago is more like us than any other character in the play.
Initially it is tough to see the motivation behind Iago’s wicked plans, but soon later on we find his participation with Roderigo, an absurd gentlemen with a desire for Desdemona. Iago fasts to capitalize on Roderigo’s emotions and intends to obtain a monetary windfall. Iago goads Roderigo into thinking that he can only win Desdemona’s love by providing him money, “Put money in thy handbag”, so that he can achieve gifts for her (Shakespeare 1. 3. 339). Iago takes the money for the presents and keeps it to earn a profit.
Once Roderigo starts to question Iago’s sincerity, Iago just thinks of more ways to capitalize on other people’s weak points and offers the idea that killing Cassio will assist Roderigo’s cause, hence Iago is making more money and making it much easier to make the most of his next victim, Cassio. It is clear that Iago’s motivations are veered rather towards financial gain, something people are all too familiar with. Iago can not rid his mind of the misery of not being chosen as Othello’s second-in-command and plots endlessly against Cassio, inspired by his yearning and craving for power.
Just as with Roderigo, Iago blinds Cassio to his true desire under the veil of a friendly buddy who is aiming to assist him. Iago uses Roderigo assist to oust Cassio out of his position and more importantly uses Cassio in his plot to enrage Othello and bring out Othello’s rage versus Cassio and Desdemona. Iago’s lust for power is distinctly a human motivation, albeit being evil, a lot of absolutely human. Iago’s last and most influential inspiration is that of revenge and among Iago’s primary goals has actually been to humiliate Othello for picking the wrong lieutenant.
Othello is driven to murder the woman he enjoys through the coaxing of Iago. Iago is not satisfied with just accusing Desdemona of sleeping with Cassio, but continues further to even accuse Othello of sleeping with his other half, Emilia “Twixt my sheets H’as done my workplace” (Shakespeare 1. 3. 378-79). Of course these actions are to accomplish his goals, but a lot more so, these allegations assist to validate his actions, acting upon behalf of his greed and personal interest, to himself. For it is always much easier to put blame on someone else instead looking inward for willpower.
The motivations of revenge and jealousy lead him to these actions versus Othello and perhaps these inspirations are more humanity than any others. It is blatantly apparent that Iago’s inspirations were wicked, but in Iago’s eyes, the evil was not fruitless, the evil was for personal motives and this is what makes him human. Iago’s exploitation of Roderigo, Cassio and Othello nicely all fit together into everything that Iago might have desired with the demise of those three along with the death of others, such as Desdemona.
Roderigo was utilized for Iago’s monetary gain as well as a help to the murder of Cassio. Cassio, deserving none of what he got, discovers himself disgraced and out of a job due to Iago getting a promotion. Last but not least, Othello’s failure is pestered with news that no one need to bear. Although a bit embellished, Iago’s actions are a representation of motivations that oblige humans to do their evil deeds, and although the portrayal of this human drive is rather cynical, it is definitely a more realistic and accurate portrayal of human nature that any of the other characters.