Consider the Role of Iago Within the Tragedy Othello Is He a “Motiveless Malignity” or Is He Driven by the “Green-Eyed Monster That Doth Mock the Meat It Feeds Upon?”
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In Othello, the role of Iago is portrayed as a Machiavellian schemer and manipulator. This is seen throughout the course of the play where he is driven by jealousy because of the power and authority he longs to have. Iago is xenophobic and has elements of sexual jealousy, as a villain he is aware of his jealous nature which portrays the fact that he is driven by the “Green-eyed monster that doth mock the meat it feeds upon”. However various audiences may have a different perception on the character of Iago and argue that he is in fact a “motiveless malignity”.
At the beginning of the play Iago reveals that he hates the Moor because Othello has chosen Cassio as his second in command, preferring him above Iago. His character is established immediately through language; when conversing with Roderigo by using blunt prose "I follow him to serve my turn upon him.”. He is under Othello's command and wishes revenge on ‘the devil’ for the promotion, this seems to be the top motive for his cruelty. Iago begins to move into play the pieces of a conspiracy with a ‘peculiar end’ because he exclaims to Roderigo “I am not what I am”, this oxymoron is an appropriate feature in Iagos’ language given that he is the white devil. Despite the fact most praise him as ‘Honest Iago’ it is only the audience to whom he reveals his true self. His master plan at the beginning of the play is to serve himself by serving Othello for power, wealth and respect.
Iago is aware of his jealous nature and this includes his sexual jealousy, he believes that Othello has slept with his wife Emilia, ‘Partly lead to die at my revenge for that I do suspect the lusty moor hath leaped my seat’ he has reason to plot revenge ‘wife for wife’. This proves that he has a plan ‘dull not device by coldness and delay’ and he does not wish to fail this plan which shows that he has a motive and therefore partly