In the play Othello by Shakespeare, Iagos lack of motive and his true character are demonstrated by the way in which he opportunistically takes advantage of events as they occur rather than formulating a carefully premeditated plan. He gives several rationalizations and reasons for his mistreatment of Othello. That is, there are various possible motives that could be linked to his absolute lack of empathy for Othello, a man who Iago has a sole goal of destroying throughout the play. Possibly, there multiple minor influences to his conduct; however, there exists an overwhelming cause in his greed for power.
It can be assumed that by trying to destroy the life of Othello; a general, Iago believes that Othello is unfit to rule or unworthy of his title. Therefore, Iagos conduct may be considered to be patriotic in nature, for he is trying to end an aristocratic regime. This is indicated with a reasonable frequency and since the plays onset. Iago argues we cannot all be masters, nor all masters/cannot be truly followed", in reference to Othello (I, i, 43-44). In averring so, Iago clearly suggests that he would never serve Othello with utmost sincerity. There is some uncertainty in whether his behavior is informed by that fact that Othello is unfit to lead or Iago desires for Othellos downfall just for a personal gain. It is apparent that Iago is narcissistic, he often suggest that everything touches on his life. He justifies his lack of empathy for others when he says in following him, I follow but myself", while referring to the general (I, i, 58). In essence, Iago constantly demonstrates through his words and actions, a total disregard for anyone, apart from himself. Therefore, Iagos desire for a shift in power is not informed by the need to improve the status of Venice; rather he so desires power in order to have the chain of command to reflect his thoughts. Iago want to be perceived in a manner that pleases him; be considered as the heart of everything as he considers himself.
Among the several reasons that led to Iago getting motivated to harm Othello was the great envy that he personally had towards him. The envy mostly emanated from the fact that Othello had a beautiful wife, Desdemona, it therefore isnt unreasonable that it might have occurred to Iago that there being a chance that if he could somehow eliminate Othello from the picture he would have the opportunity to woo Desdemona. Iagos admiration for Othellos is apparent when he confesses her love for her (II, i, 303). He then takes advantage of the dislike he has for Othello and starts pursuing his wife on the pretence of revenge. Iagos revenge against Othello is as a result of an accusation brought out by Iago himself that Othello had slept with his wife. This accusation is in essence not supported by any tangible evidence other than the word of Iago. He takes advantage of these in order to advance his own bad motives. Even though his claims against Othello could not substantiated he still goes ahead to plan the downfall and destruction of Othello. Iago loosely spreads the rumour of the alleged affair Othello ahead with his wife as a result continuing to damage Othellos credibility and standing. It is also apparent that Iago himself does not in any case have any reason to actually accept as true the claim he was making In so doing he takes advantage of the situation to further his cause of destroying Othello. It is also apparent that Iago is unsure of his claims when he say "I know not if it be true,But I, for mere suspicion in that kind, Will do as if for surety" (II, i, 394-396). Nevertheless he does not bother to clearly investigate the rumor in order to provide evidence that could help in ascertaining his claims.
It becomes obvious that Iago is not in any case concerned with the validity of the allegations but in real sense he is more interested in the ways and means in which he could use the allegations against Othello to rationalize the actions he takes in order to achieve his desires. Clearly Iago's concern is not in any way set towards ascertaining whether or not the claims are true, Iago's concern is mostly centered on the various ways he could use the rumor to rationalize his actions. Consequently, it becomes apparent that Iago is simply taking advantage of the unpleasant turn of events to shift the course and outcome of certain events to favor his ultimate goals.
Iago's desire for influence is evident through his quick manner of exercising the little power he has whenever he gets the opportunity. As a result for his love for power and influence he draws much pleasure and relish whenever he is able to manipulate circumstances and people. This is apparent when he boasts of his ease in being able to radically and effectively have power and influence over the several instances and the power he wields over other people. One of the instances which bring out how Iago relishes the feeling of influence and power is when he gloats "make the Moor thank me, love me, and reward me for making him egregiously an ass" (II, i, 320-321). The yearning for supremacy by Iago can also be clearly seen in the choice of victims he settles for. Among the people that Iago takes advantage of mostly are Cassio and Othello. Iagos dislike for cassio begins when he is given a [position that Iago himself was interested in holding and Othello was in fact responsible for Cassio getting the position. This further aggravated the dislike Iago had for him.
In conclusion, through his behavior and pursuit of vengeance, Iago is portrayes as a moral pyromaniac; an individual who rationally and irrationally plots the downfall of other people; particularly individual which high standards of morals, such as Othello. It is undeniable that Iago has a relentless desire for domination and power. From his actions, it is apparent that Iagos ability to hurt others is his most convincing diplay of his power. He has an inbred and immense desire to bring intolerable suffering to other people and enjoy their suffering. He plays two roles in the play, he acts as a confidant to Othello while at the same time plotting Othellos downfall as an enemy. Iago carefully plans his actions; making sure he attains the expected outcome, but he lack visible motives. His constant display of duality confirms the intricacy of Iagos character; he is not just a man pursuing vengeance. He is also demonic in nature, as suggested by the ambiguity of his motives.
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