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Othello: Iago The Outsider

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In any story with a recurring dark theme there always must be an outsider from humanity who somehow stands out from the seemingly equal community. In the case of Shakespeare's Othello the outsider from humanity would be Iago for he truly stands out from the rest of society. Although Othello may be physically put out of the community, it seems that on an emotional and egotistical level Iago puts himself out of society further then Othello's blackness does. He is not merely manipulative, as other villains are; he turns aspects of truth and good qualities, which he does not possess, and uses them as weakness for his own scheme. He deceives people to follow his plans by telling them the truth and what seems to be good advice. By standing on the side and watching people he seems to learn more about them then they even know themselves. He seems to envy these people and the relationships that they possess, because

he will never know what these connections feel like. He uses people's strengths as their weaknesses to bring them to their doom. He causes much destruction and is driven by a force that the reader cannot even understand. Iago makes himself an outsider by not realizing that his ego causes him to hate and disrespect all of humanity.

Iago respects no one and yet is cunning enough to make people continue to trust and respect him. This is a truly super human quality in Iago that allows him to manipulate people to do what he wants without them knowing. He is married to Emilia, and although the reader would see marriage as a sacred bond, Iago manipulates it for his selfish ways. It may be his careless marriage that causes him to feel that he must destroy Desdemona's and Othello's. This would show his childish, jealous mentality towards others. The reason he treats Emilia so badly may be that he blames her for their dysfunctional marriage. From this, she has gained a perhaps not so tainted image of men and husbandry. She describes men "are all but stomachs, and we all but food; they eat us hungerly, and when they are full, they belch us." (III, iv, 98-100) Iago treats Emilia as if she were a slave at his every whim and she knows it but for some reason Iago has tricked her into thinking that's the way life is in marriage; so although Emilia may seem like the more experienced character in the play she herself cannot even see the corruptness in Iago's ways.

Another character who was obviously tricked by Iago was Roderigo. Iago used Roderigo's infatuation with Desdemona to set his plan off. It is obvious that Iago gets pure enjoyment out of manipulating an innocent, unintelligent bystander such as Roderigo; much like how flies entertain mischievous boys. Iago continually repeats "Put money in thy purse" (I, iii, 334-335) as he is pretending to ease Roderigo's pain and tell him that there's still hope for him and Desdemona. Roderigo's compassion towards Desdeomona causes Iago to feel almost jealous of such a noble trait. Roderigo has no clue that Iago is not only planning to use him as a pawn in his plan but to also take his money while he's at it.

Iago delivers false trust to Othello as well as Roderigo. Othello trusted Iago to such a culmination that he would even leave the fortune of his wife with him.


My life upon her faith! Honest Iago,

My Desdemona must I leave to thee" (I, iii, 291-293)

In this you can also see one of the various lines where Iago is referred to as honest. That continual reference shows how easily Iago gets people to trust his pretension. As well as that, Iago dangerously goes behind peoples backs to the point where he is literally disrespecting Othello mere lines after he was just honored by him. The fact that Othello gave his trust to him doesn't at all hinder Iago's ability to deceive him minutes later.


Thus do I ever make my fool my purse:

For I mine own gain'd knowledge should profane,

If I would time expend with such a snipe.

But for my sport and profit. I hate the Moor" (I, iii, 374-377)

Both Othello and Roderigo have no clue of Iago's intentions. Iago was able to manipulate and destroy everyone's lives by taking friendship and trust turning it against the benefactors.

Iago has no conscience and therefore unlike Othello or any other tragic hero asks for no redemption. One of Iago's astucious qualities is his ability to take the good quality of others and use them against them. He takes it even further, however, as he has no realization of the evil he has done. Iago suspects Othello may have slept with his wife. He is not positive, but says that surety is not necessary.


But for my sport and profit. I hate the Moor,

And it is thought abroad that 'twixt my sheets

H'as done my office. I know not if't be true,

But I, for mere suspicion in that kind,

Will do, as if for surety." (I, iii, 379-381)

This shows how Iago isn't really concerned about Emilia being unfaithful with Othello or anyone for that matter. He just wants to ruin Othello beyond reason.

Iago takes what most of us see as good and uses those traits against characters in the play. He is able to take something as pure as Othello and Desdemona's love or Cassio's loyalty as a weakness that he can pounce on. "He holds me well; The better shall my purpose work on him." (I, iii, 381-382) Iago possesses no good qualities so as a jealous pay back he takes trust and turns it against the trusting and then tries to take it even further for himself.


Cassio's a proper man. Let me see now;

To get his place, and to plume up my will

In double knavery. How? How? Let's see." (I, iii, 383-385)

Iago knows he can perform 'double knavery' if his plan goes right: he can get Cassio's position as well as the sheer enjoyment of watching others suffer. Of all the characters in the play it seems that Othello is the weakest contradicting his strong position. Iago knows this and is ready to pounce as soon as he feels trusted.


The Moor is of a free



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