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Iago as the Perfect Villain of Shakespeare’s Othello

Iago as the Perfect Villain of Othello

Iago, the villain in Shakespeare’s Othello, is a round character of great depth and many dimensions. Iago works towards an aim that is constantly changing and becomes progressively more tragic. Yet, at times, “honest” Iago does actually seem honest. This essay will explore the complex character of “honest Iago.

One of the most interesting questions that crops up is concerning Iago’s motives. What are his reasons to kill every major Venetian in Cyprus? Shakespeare seemingly sets the stage for Iago’s actions, giving him two distinct reasons to avenge Othello. The first is the fact that Othello promotes Cassio, an “arithmetician” to the rank of lieutenant and passes over Iago who is but a sergeant. Secondly, Iago is suspicious of his wife, Emilia and thinks she is sleeping with every other man but him—including Othello. There are other reasons that Iago talks about in his soliloquies—the primary one being jealousy or “the green-eyed monster.” Iago resents the love that Othello and Desdemona share and also takes offence at the fact that Othello is older, yet he has a young and beautiful wife, power, and respect, all that Iago desires. However, all these reasons seem to be false and made-up just for the sake of being excuses for his malice. He also uses these reasons to convince Roderigo to hate Othello. The real motive seems but a slip on Iago’s part when he says in act five, as he waits to stab Cassio:

“If Cassio do remain,

He hath a daily beauty in his life

That makes me ugly…”

He refers to Cassio’s goodness here and realizes that he lacks his gentlemanly traits. They are not quite of the same class and Iago resents that, for he knows that the promotion was not …

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… that people, who all along look up to him and call him “honest” Iago, realize this. Being a Shakespearean tragedy, Iago and—ultimately—evil, triumphs.

Works Cited and Consulted

Bradley, A. C.. Shakespearean Tragedy. New York: Penguin, 1991.

Di Yanni, Robert. “Character Revealed Through Dialogue.” Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Reprint from Literature. N. p.: Random House, 1986.

Mack, Maynard. Everybody’s Shakespeare: Reflections Chiefly on the Tragedies. Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 1993.

Shakespeare. Othello. The Longman Anthology of British Literature. Ed. Rossi. New York: Longman, 1999. 312-379.

Shakespeare, William. Othello. In The Electric Shakespeare. Princeton University. 1996. No line nos.

slaverybel Treatment of Slaves in Toni Morrison’s Beloved

Contrasting Treatment of Slaves in Beloved

Slavery has always been a known as a relationship of one person entirely under the domination of another person. One of the horrific instances of slavery took place in the Americas between the 15th and 19th centuries. During this time Europeans living in the New World enslaved Blacks from Africa. The White European enslaved many Blacks from Africa, but the degree that each master treated his slaves was different. This contrasting treatment of Slaves is portrayed in Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved. The two masters in the book; Mr. Garner and Schoolteacher treat the same slaves very differently. Mr. Garner gives his slaves as much freedom as he sees fit. Conversely, Schoolteacher controls his slaves with an iron fist. The way that Schoolteacher manages his slaves is a superior way to control slaves because it is more up front. He gave his slaves a sense of identity, while Mr. Gardner deceived his slaves and provided them with a lack of identity.

The first master, Mr. Garner was in charge of the farm called “Sweet Home” before the other master named Schoolteacher took over. Mr. Garner ruled his slaves without raising a fist. He was a seemingly polite master. He considered his Slaves “men” and allowed them to do things that most owners wouldn’t. His slaves were allowed and encouraged to correct him, and “even defy him” (p.125). He allowed his slaves “to buy a mother, choose a horse or a wife, handle guns, even learn to read if they wanted to” (p.125). These are actions that a typical slave owner didn’t allow. But Mr. Garner was not a typical slave owner. He was a proud man, and very pleased with the way he ran his farm and his slaves. Some writers even feel tha…

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…eet Home. He realized that he and the other slaves had all “been isolated in a wonderful lie” (p.221). He finally comes to the conclusion that life was really was not better under Mr. Garner. He was a slave both under Mr. Garner and under Schoolteacher. The only difference is that under Schoolteacher he had an identity.

There are many different ways a human being can control another. During the 1800’s slavery was a common practice in the southern states of the United States and throughout Latin America. During this time many Africans were enslaved. Most Africans lived their lives knowing that their purpose in life was to be slaves. Others lived their lives with a lack of identity, never actually realizing their purpose in life and in doing so living a life of deception.

Works Cited:

Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York, Penguin Books USA Inc, 1988.

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