The Transformation of Iago in Othello

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“I am not what I am”(1.1.68). Shakespeare incorporates this quote so early in his play, Othello, to show that Iago is a purely malicious and selfish character who will do whatever it takes to get what he wants. While Iago appears to be merely just a dishonest person at first, he proves himself to be one of the most horrible villains in literature that takes absolute pleasure in crumbling the lives of others with no sense of empathy whatsoever. Shakespeare is able to develop Iago's maliciousness and complete lack of emotion throughout the play by using direct and indirect characterization as well as other literary devices. Shakespeare at first characterizes Iago as jealous and devious. For example, in Shakespeare’s use of monologue in the quote, "To get his[Cassio's] place, and plume up my will/In double knavery-How, How?- Let's see/After some time to abuse Othello's ear/That he[Cassio] is too familiar with his wife./He hath a person and a smooth dispose/To be suspected; framed to make women false," (1.3.403-408) he shows Iago's initial plan is to just make Othello believe that Desdemona and Cassio are together so that Iago can take Cassio's spot as lieutenant. Through Iago's monolouge, it is shown that Iago's initial intention was not to commit horrendous crimes like murder but rather just to get Cassio and Desdemona arrested and slander their reputation. Even though ruining someone's reputation shows some degree of sinisterness, it is nowhere close to the odious crime of murder which Iago does eventually commit. This shows that Iago is a rogue at the beginning of the play that simply wants to replace Cassio and not murder him. Iago further develops into his role as a terrifying villain in the quote, "And nothing can or shall content my soul/Till I am even'd with him[Othello], wife for wife;/Or failing so, yet that I put the Moor/At least into a jealousy so

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