Iago as the Hero of Shakespeare's Othello

Iago as the Hero of Shakespeare's Othello
Roderigo, a soldier in Othello?s army, is in love with Desdemona and is deceived by Iago into thinking that Desdemona holds some affection for him. Iago, who is Othello?s ?ancient? or his counselor, desires to hold Othello?s position and so tries to devise a plan to become general. As proved by the outcome of the play, Othello was too naive and kindhearted to properly lead an army. Iago felt that he should have been promoted to be Othello?s lieutenant but Cassio was promoted instead. The outcome of the play also proves that Iago was more efficient in achieving his goals. Iago?s plan is one that involves Cassio, Othello?s second in command, Roderigo and Desdemona. Iago is better qualified than either Cassio or Othello if he devised such a plan without either of them noticing. The same strategies he uses in everyday life he would be able to employ in battles. Iago instills jealousy in both Roderigo and Othello by leading each of them to think that Desdemona and Cassio are having an affair. He accomplishes all this without being discovered until the end.

During the course of the play, Othello is further deceived by Iago to believe that Desdemona is unfaithful to him. Emilia, Iago?s wife, unknowingly helps Iago fool Othello when she gives her husband the handkerchief that was given to Desdemona by Othello on their wedding night. Desdemona always keeps this by her side, as a result of Othello?s command. When Iago tells Othello that he has seen Cassio with his gift to Desdemona, Othello becomes enraged and vows to kill her. He also makes Iago swear that he will kill Cassio.

Through Iago?s planning, Roderigo gets a chance to kill Cassio but fails. When Iago sees Roderigo?s failure to carry through with the plan, he wounds Cassio in the leg and kills Roderigo. When Othello hears commotion in the streets below he thinks that Cassio is dead and smothers Desdemona. When Cassio, Gratiano (relative to Brabantio), Montano (Cyprus official), and Iago hear Emilia?s screams from Othello?s bedroom they discover what he has done. Iago is revealed as the culprit and he then kills Emilia. After this Othello commits suicide and Iago is taken away to be punished.

Iago was seeking a revenge that can be justified because he felt that Othello had had an affair with Emilia. Although, we are never told the truth in the end, suspicions are enough cause for revenge for Iago as they are for Othello. In the same way, Iago led Othello to believe that Desdemona was having an affair. Iago may have also thought that it was because Emilia denied or did not pleasure Othello that he was not promoted to lieutenant. Emilia had expressed a willingness to do whatever was necessary if it would promote her husband. ?Who would not make her husband a cuckold to make him a monarch? I should venture to purgatory for?t.? (p. 217, line 85)

As in most novels and plays, the main character is viewed as the ?good person? who has bad things happen to him or her. Also in most novels, the protagonist is also viewed as the victim or the one we sympathize with the most. I believe that this is why when reading Othello one would tend to side with Othello for his naivete. Othello is living a sucessful life, newly married, and prospering until Iago decides to create a better future for himself. At this point, the reader decides that Iago is seeking to destroy Othello?s life for his own evil gain. Even in the synapsis on the book cover, isIago described as ?a villain with an outward appearance of honest virtue but filled with hate, envy, and ambition?? who ?poisons Othello?s mind.? Before we ever learn anything about him, we have already been given a negative perception of his character.

I disagree with this, for the fact that Iago is not wrong in desiring a better life for himself. We are all willing to fight for our individual rights but we neglect to include or consider those of the people around us. Iago, just as Othello, is entitled to pursuing his happiness to whatever level may be pleasing to him. In seeking your personal pursuit of happiness you are preventing someone else?s pursuit because your opinions of happiness or the extent of your happiness will vary or conflict. Just as Othello dramatically changed Desdemona?s relationship with Brabantio, Iago changed Othello?s relation to Desdemona. When Othello and Desdemona deceived Brabantio, it was considered harmless but when Iago deceived Othello to search for the fulfillment of his happiness, it seemed wrong. The only reason this seemed wrong is because we have decided from our negative perspective of Iago as the ?evildoer? that only bad- and not good- things should happen to him.

It may be argued that Iago?s pursuit of happiness involves the deaths of people and the destruction of their reputations, so therefore he is a villain. This may seem to be a sound argument but it fails to prove how Iago murdered anyone with a malicious intent. Iago can be said to be responsible for Roderigo?s murder, but one must consider the extenuating circumstances involved. Roderigo?s life threatened Iago?s happiness, and in the same manner that Othello felt threatened by Iago, he needed to be removed. Iago killed Emilia only after his plan was discovered and was his way of setting her free from the cruel reality. Iago is simply seeking a better way of life for himself and Emilia, just as anyone else in our society may do.

Everyday businesspeople make deals, transactions and decisions that can cause death or harm to many people but that is simply part of the deal. In life there are two definite steps to every action: cause and effect. Iago?s cause was to seek out a better position in Othello?s army. He was driven by passion and anger at not havin received his decidedly rightful position that he would allow nothing to stop him. In today?s society (and I?m sure in Shakespeare time too) seeking to improve your way of life is something that those who are poor or underpriviliged are constantly seeking. This concept, though, does not only apply to the poor, because even the rich are trying to be richer or maintain their way of life.

All these other examples are logical and rational but yet we choose to view Iago?s search for the ?American (or Venetian) Dream?, a sadistic one. One can argue that Iago?s reasoning bordered on a thin line between sanity and insanity but yet the unfairness of Othello?s decision and his failure to account for his decision may explain Iago?s frustration.

Iago as the Hero of Shakespeare's Othello 7.6 of 10 on the basis of 1456 Review.