Othello: Iago the Con
Maybe the most intriguing and exotic character in the tragic play “Othello,” by William Shakespeare, is “Truthful” Iago. Through some carefully thought-out words and actions, Iago is able to manipulate others to do things in such a way that benefits him and moves him closer toward his goals. He is the main driving force in this play, pressing Othello and everybody else towards their awful end. Iago is not your regular bad guy. The function he plays is rather special and intricate, far from what one might expect. Iago is smart.
He is an expert judge of individuals and their characters and utilizes this to his advantage. For instance, he understands Roderigo loves Desdemona and figures that he would do anything to have her as his own. Iago states about Roderigo, “Thus do I ever make my fool my handbag.” [Act I, Scene III, line 355] By playing on his hopes, Iago is able to scam money and jewels from Roderigo, making himself a significant earnings, while utilizing Roderigo to forward his other objectives. He also thinks fast on his feet and has the ability to improvise whenever something unexpected happens.
When Cassio grabs Desdemona’s hand before the arrival of the Moor Othello, Iago states, “With as little a web as this will I capture as terrific a fly as Cassio.” [Act II, Scene I, Line 163] His shrewd and craftiness make him a really dastardly bad guy indeed. Being as wise as he is, Iago fasts to recognize the advantages of trust and uses it as a tool to forward his purposes. Throughout the story he is commonly referred to as, and commonly called, “Honest Iago.” He even states of himself, “I am a truthful guy …” [Act II, Scene III, Line 245] Trust is a really effective emotion that is easily abused.
Othello, “holds [him] well;/ The better shall [Iago’s] purpose work on him.” [pg. 1244, Line 362] Iago is a master of abuse in this case turning people’s trust in him into tools to forward his own objectives. His “med’cine works! Hence credulous fools are caught …” [pg. 1284, Line 44] Iago slowly poisons individuals’s thoughts, creating ideas in their heads without implicating himself. “And what’s he then that says I play the bad guy, when this advice is free I provide, and sincere,” [Act II, Scene III, Line 299] says Iago, the master of deception. And hence, individuals seldom stop to consider the ossibility that old Iago might be deceiving them or manipulating them, after all, he is “Sincere Iago.” Iago makes a fool out of Roderigo. In reality, the play begins with Iago having actually already taken advantage of him. Roderigo remarks, “That thou, Iago, who hast had my purse as if the strings were 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 informing Roderigo to “make money” [Act I, Scene III, Line 339] so that he can give presents to Desdemona to win her over.
During the entire play however, Iago is just taking those gifts that Roderigo plans for Desdemona and keeps them for himself. Roderigo eventually begins to question Iago’s honesty, stating “I think it is scurvy, and begin to find myself fopped in it.” [Act IV, Scene II, Line 189] When faced with this allegation, Iago simply offers that eliminating Cassio will assist his cause and Roderigo blindly succumbs to it, hook, line, and sinker. “I have no terrific dedication to the deed, and yet he has actually provided me rewarding factor,” [Act V, Scene I, Line 8] says the fool Roderigo.
And with this deed, Roderigo is cause his death by the hands of none other than, “Truthful Iago.” Cassio, like Roderigo, follows Iago blindly, thinking the whole time that Iago is attempting to help him. And throughout this whole time, Iago is preparing the demise of Cassio, his expected friend. On the night of Cassio’s watch, Iago convinces him to take another beverage, understanding very well that it will make him very intoxicated. Cassio just follows along, though he states, “I’ll do’t, however it dislikes me.” [Act II, Scene III, Line 37] Iago has the ability to make him defy his own reasoning to take another beverage!
Crafty, is this Iago. When Roderigo follows through with the strategy Iago has actually set on him, Cassio is made to appear like a careless fool, leading to his termination as lieutenant. After this event, Iago sets another of his strategies in motion by informing Cassio to plead Desdemona to assist his cause, stating, “she holds it a vice in her goodness not to do more than she is requested.” [Act II, Scene III, Line 287] And hence, Cassio is set on a dark path which causes trouble and mischief. Yet, Cassio follows it blindly telling Iago, “You recommend me well.” [Act II, Scene III, Line 292] With this,
Cassio is ultimately led into a trap where Roderigo maims him, and all that time, Iago– his friend– is behind it all. Lowly Iago, can anything– not even Othello is safe from this villain. Othello holds Iago to be his friend and consultant. He thinks Iago to be an individual, “of surpassing sincerity, [who] understands all qualities, with discovered spirit of human negotiations.” [Act III, Scene III, Line 257] Yes, he does understand everything about human negotiations, however no he is not honest. He utilizes the trust Othello puts in him to turn Othello eventually into an envious male, looking all over.