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The Theme Of Evil In Shakespeare's Othello

2308 words - 10 pages

Just what is "evil" in Shakespeare's play? Iagos will for "revenge" on Cassio, who has been promoted to a higher army rank than himself? Is Iago evil? Essentially, Iago could be described as the central trouble-making, ill-willed character of the play; he leads a lot of the characters into a state of confusion, convincing them to think poorly and wrong of other figures in 'Othello' that are in fact innocent of their accused crimes.But does this make him an "evil" individual? Let us begin by defining the word "evil". An evil person may be considered as somebody who condones bad or morally wrong activities that cause ruin, injury, misfortune or destruction.From this definition, it becomes ...view middle of the document...

Cassio is plied with drink while on duty and is challenged by Roderigo in his intoxicated state of mind, leading to a fight. Cassio is thus disgraced and a dismissal from his post is inevitable. Iagos tomfoolery does not end here; he goes on to persuade Othello that Desdemona is in love with Cassio, thus having committed adultery on her husband. Iago receives a handkerchief from Emilia that was dropped by Desdemona for false proof of Desdemona's invented relationship with Cassio, maintaining it was found in Cassio's chamber. This move by Iago leads Othello to think Desdemona a whore, escorting him to jealousy, shattering the love and pride he showed for Desdemona. Shakespeare uses this to create a foreseeable but delicately ironic situation: Othello now seeks revenge on Desdemona and Cassio, who in fact are innocent and haven't performed a single thing to harm the other characters; all arisen complications are the result of Iago's treachery and manipulation of the individual characters.Othello requests Iago to kill Cassio, where Iago persuades Roderigo to assist him. As Roderigo strikes an unsuccessful attempt on Cassio's life, yet more complications arise; Iago stabs Roderigo as a consequence of his sloppy, incomplete work, and while this is going on, Othello smothers Desdemona in bed.When Emilia informs Othello of the attack on Cassio, she finds her mistress (Desdemona) dead and screams for help. It is at this point of the play that Iago's plot is revealed by his wife, who is, perhaps unmercifully and flabbergastingly, killed by her husband in return for letting the truth out.Othello realises the mistakes he has made in being gullible enough to believe Iago's tall stories and kills himself. Iago, in return, receives the punishment of torture.From the above, it becomes clear of the role appointed to Iago by his author. But what does Iago seek out in performing such evil and malicious activities and telling such ruthless lies? True, he seeks revenge, but was it his original intentions that people were killed for the pursuit of his vengeance on Othello and Cassio? It is doubtful. At any given point in the play, Iago does what he thinks best to climb out of the current situation he stands in. Naturally in doing so, he digs his own grave deeper and deeper, not achieving the desired task, but only causing more confusion from the point of view of the other characters and thus leading to bleak suffering of all the persons mentioned in the character list of the play.From my point of view, Iago lacks any type of solid, convincing ground for his "evil" activities on the characters; he simply never backs up his actions with proper reasoning, clearly taking advantage of the vulnerable and uneasy atmosphere following the threat of invasion Cyprus finds itself in. For example, in the first scene he makes a claim to being angry at Othello for not having considered him worthy of promotion to lieutenant. (Act I Scene 1, lines 7-32) Additionally, at the end of...

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