My first impression of Iago is that he’s a manipulative and hypocritical man who tries to make up for the lack of success and happiness in his life by destroying that of others. In Iago’s first appearance in the play, he’s seen manipulating the wealthy but foolish Roderigo into giving him money. He claims to be taking this money to buy extravagant gifts to woo Desdemona on Roderigo’s behalf, but he keeps the money for himself.
“Iago, who hast had [Roderigo’s] purse/ As if the strings were [his]” is clearly taking advantage of the jealous suitor of Desdemona (I. i. -3). As Roderigo is threatening to drown himself, Iago says to him, “If the/ balance of our lives had not one scale of reason to poise/ another of sensuality, the blood and baseness of our/ natures would conduct us to most prepost’rous/ conclusions” (I. iii. 325-329). This is hypocritical of Iago because he is scolding Roderigo for letting emotions and desires take over his life, but Iago lets rage, jealous, and his thirst for revenge take over his life. As a result of the lack of happiness and success in his own life, Iago feels the need to destroy that of others.
When Cassio is promoted to lieutenant, Iago conspires to have him fired by suggesting that he’s having an affair with Desdemona. When Othello marries Desdemona, Iago tries to turn Brabantio against his new son-in-law. Iago is unhappy with his life – he doesn’t have the job he wants, and his marriage isn’t a happy one – so he tries to compensate by making the lives of others miserable as well. Iago appears to be a typical villain whose plots are made in an attempt to get revenge on the protagonists. His manipulative and hypocritical ways help conceal his wicked thoughts from the foolish Roderigo and over-trusting Othello.
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