The Real Bastard: Iago vs. Edmund

1369 Words6 Pages
King Lear’s Edmund and Othello’s Iago are undoubtedly Shakespeare’s most evil characters. Even when put up against each other, the two villains prove to be similar in several aspects. It is their differences, however, that point to the real villain of the two, and the one that is truly evil. The similarities in the means by which Edmund and Iago perform their intrigues point to their position as villains, but it is the reasons for their actions and the eventual unwinding of their plots that sets Iago miles ahead of Edmund in terms of evil nature. Iago and Edmund both utilize trust and love as instruments of destruction while at the same time exacerbating inherent tensions within the relationships of their victims. Iago and Edmund exploit the love and trust of others in order to be able to manipulate their victims. Iago develops a strong bond with Cassio, using Cassio’s grief and hopelessness, by ensuring Cassio of his Iago’s love. “I protest, in the sincerity of love and honest kindness,” (Shakespeare 103), says Iago to Cassio in the aftermath of Othello’s public humiliation of Cassio. Cassio is convinced of Iago’s love for him – Iago acts genuinely concerned with his situation. When Iago proposes a solution to Cassio’s seemingly hopless situation, Cassio is grateful and therefore rewards Iago with all his trust and respect. “I never knew a Florentine more kind and honest,” (Shakespeare, 113), Cassio exclaims after Iago exits. Iago has thus, without any severely complex machinations, ensured Cassio as a token in his plot against Othello. Of course, for Iago, getting Othello to love and trust him is not difficult – he is already a respected soldier in the army and Othello’s ancient. Othello has enormous respect for Iago and puts a great deal of trust in him. However, Iago needs this trust to become unconditional. By telling Othello to be wary of his wife and later
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