The Essence of Evil (Iago

The Essence of Evil (Iago

In the words of Buddha, “An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will [destroy] your mind.” William Shakespeare’s tragic drama, Othello, introduces one of the most villainous characters in all of literature: Iago. The Machiavellian character takes advantage of his ability to read into the minds of Roderigo, Othello, and Cassio, and uses his knowledge of their weaknesses to bring them to obliteration by any measures necessary. His evil is done purely for the pleasure of seeing others in unbearable agony. Iago’s wicked nature proves to be the key factor in destroying Shakespeare’s characters by means of manipulation. The villainous Iago first carries out his evil by exploiting poor Roderigo who is noticeably in love with Othello’s wife, Desdemona. Iago realizes Desdemona is content in her marriage to Othello. Still, he tells Roderigo there is hope for them to be together. Iago knows this is nowhere close to the truth, but encourages Roderigo to keep pushing to get Desdemona just so he can receive the pay for services he is not performing for Roderigo. Later, Iago uses Roderigo’s love for Desdemona to convince him that the only way she’ll stay when Othello is called on to go back home, is if Cassio, who has been appointed to take Othello’s place, is gone. Iago takes it upon himself to have Roderigo get rid of Cassio permanently. During Roderigo’s attempt to kill Cassio, Iago kills Roderigo, displaying his unyielding perseverance to get what he wants. Another instance of Iago’s evildoing occurs between Othello and himself. Iago makes it clear in the first act that he is infuriated by Othello’s preference to pick Cassio as lieutenant rather than him. He also notes in a soliloquy that Othello may have been intimate with Emilia: “I hate the Moor, and it is thought abroad that ‘twixt my sheets h’as done my office.” Iag…


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