Understanding Iago Essay

1377 Words 6 Pages
Iago is a man who has been molded by his experiences. Shakespearean characters traditionally act merely as stock characters; they fulfill a role that is necessary to the story and they are merely characters created in the vacuum of that play. The action of the play and the circumstances surrounding the story dictate how characters act and respond to events. Interesting to Othello, each character is guided by their experiences outside of the play. What happened to them before the play started guides how they act within the play. This is especially true of Iago, who has been guided by his experiences outside the context of the story itself. The insecurities that plague him, the machinations he utilizes to manipulate other characters, the …show more content…
Iago does not wear his heart on his sleeve, and in a seemingly deceptive fashion, covers his true nature (though this is only meant to protect himself). In one of his numerous asides, he tells the audience straight out how he disguises his emotions, saying that after he accomplishes his purposes, “… ‘tis not long after / But I will wear my heart on my sleeve / For daws to peck at. I am not what I am” (I. i. 62-64). Iago’s insecurities caused by events outside of the play, specifically Othello’s selection of Cassio as his lieutenant, cause Iago to bear a significant inferiority complex, not dissimilar to the one possessed by Robert Cohn in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, who seeks the approval of women specifically to empower himself and prove his worth and his ability to control the world around him. This feeling of inferiority was prompted most specifically by Othello’s selection of Cassio as his lieutenant. “And I (of whom his eyes had seen the proof / At Rhodes, at Cyprus, and on other grounds / Chistened and heathen)” (I. i. 27-29). Iago loved Othello at one time, and knows that the Moor had seen what he can do, and his heart was broken by his betrayal. In Sam Wood’s article “Where Iago Lies: Home, honesty and the Turk in Othello,” Iago’s manipulations are analyzed in depth, and the techniques he uses to regain this control are explained and seemingly justified by his nature. Wood stresses that by analyzing only

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