by William Shakespeare 

The Amoral Acts Of Iago 

Shakespeare's Iago is one of Shakespeare's most complex
villains. At first glance Iago's character seems to be pure
evil. However, such a villain would distract from the
impact of the play and would be trite. Shakespeare, to add
depth to his villain, makes him amoral, as opposed to the
typical immoral villain. Iago's entire scheme begins when
the "ignorant, ill-suited" Cassio is given the position he
desired. Iago is consumed with envy and plots to steal the
position he feels he most justly deserves. Iago deceives,
steals, and kills to gain that position. However, it is not
that Iago pushes aside his conscience to commit these acts,
but that he lacks a conscience to begin with. Iago's
amorality can be seen throughout the play and is
demonstrated by his actions. 

For someone to constantly lie and deceive one's wife and
friends, one must be extremely evil or, in the case of
Iago, amoral. In every scene in which Iago speaks one can
point out his deceptive manner. Iago tricks Othello into
believing that his own wife is having an affair, without
any concrete proof. Othello is so caught up in Iago's lies
that he refuses to believe Desdemona when she denies the
whole thing. Much credit must be given to Iago's diabolical
prowess which enables him to bend and twist the supple
minds of his friends and spouse. In today's society Iago
would be called a psychopath without a conscience not the
devil incarnate. 

Iago also manages to steal from his own friend without the
slightest feeling of guilt. He embezzles the money that
Roderigo gives him to win over Desdemona. When Roderigo
discovers that Iago has been hoarding his money he screams
at Iago and threatens him. However, when Iago tells him
some fanciful plot in order to capture Desdemona's heart
Roderigo forgets Iago's theft and agrees to kill Cassio.
Iago's keen intellect is what intrigues the reader most.
His ability to say the right things at the right time is
what makes him such a successful villain. However, someone
with a conscience would never be able to keep up such a
ploy and deceive everyone around him. This is why it is
necessary to say that Iago is amoral, because if you don't
his character becomes fictional and hard to believe. 

At the climactic ending of the play, Iago's plot is given
away to Othello by his own wife, Emilia. Iago sees his wife
as an obstacle and a nuisance so he kills her. He kills her
not as much out of anger but for pragmatic reasons. Emilia
is a stumbling block in front of his path. She serves no
purpose to him anymore and she can now only hurt his
chances of keeping the position he has been given by
Othello. Iago's merciless taking of Emilia's and Roderigo's
lives is another proof of his amorality. 

If one looks in modern day cinema, one will see the trite
villain, evil to the core. Shakespeare took his villains to
a higher level. He did not make them transparent like the
villains of modern cinema. He gave his villains depth and
spirit. Iago is a perfect example of "Shakespeare's
villain." His amorality and cynicism give, what would be a
very dull character, life. 


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