Othello And Iago Are More Alike (Essay Sample)

Similarities of Othello and Iago

Introduction

William Shakespeare (1564 to April 23, 1616) was an English playwright, actor and poet was often referred to as England’s national poet. He took part in theatre plays and poetry which revolve around many aspects of life. His plays have been performed over and in countless places for more than 400 years (Biography, 2017). One of those plays is “Othello (The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice)” believed to have been written between 1602 and 1604. In this book Shakespeare uses different characters to bring out the theme of the book. In Othello, Othello and Iago are the main characters with the former being the villain. This essay looks at the summary of ‘Othello,’ differences of the two characters, Othello and Iago and the similarities of these two characters.

Othello

Othello is the main character in the book. He is a general in the Venetian National forces who is skilled, intellectual and fearless. He has good skills and that is why he is promoted even with his background being in Africa. Othello is married to Desdemona who has adoration and love for him. Othello is full of rage and jealousy and that defines the decisions he makes in this play (McCulloch, Helen, and Carey, 2016).

Iago

Iago is the villain. He is angry at Othello for making Cassio the Lieutenant and plots to destroy Othello’s marriage and life. He offers to help Rodriguez win the attention of Desdemona, Othello’s wife. Iago’s plans revolve around him creating mistrust between Othello and Desdemona. He is evil and a sadist who rejoices at other people’s misfortunes (McCulloch, Helen, and Carey, 2016).

Summary of Othello (The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice)

Othello (The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice) by Shakespeare revolves around Othello who is a general in the Venetian defense forces. Iago acts a major character in this play since most of what happens in the plot are based on his villain actions. He plots to help Rodriguez get Othello’s wife Desdemona for himself by implicating that Cassio and Desdemona are having an affair. Iago ensures that Cassio who is also in the Venetian defense forces is fired and takes a handkerchief that Emilia collects after Desdemona drops it. Iago gives the handkerchief to Cassio.

Iago then tells Othello that Desdemona gave the handkerchief to Cassio to prove to him of Desdemona’s affair with Cassio. Othello requests to see the special handkerchief from his wife and since she does not have it he takes it as truth that she is cheating. He plans and kills his wife. He later finds out from Emilia (while she is dying after being stabbed by Iago) that Desdemona was innocent. He feels guilty and stabs himself after telling his men to remember both his good and bad deeds “one that lov’d not wisely, but too well.” (Act 5, scene 2: Shakespeare & Rolfe, 2011 )

Main Characters (Antagonist and Protagonist)

Othello

Othello is the main character in the book. He is a general in the Venetian National forces who is skilled, intellectual and fearless. He has good skills and that is why he is promoted even with his background being in Africa. Othello is married to Desdemona who has adoration and love for him. Othello is full of rage and jealousy and that defines the decisions he makes in this play (McCulloch, Helen, and Carey, 2016).

Iago

Iago is the villain. He is angry at Othello for making Cassio the Lieutenant and plots to destroy Othello’s marriage and life. He offers to help Rodriguez win the attention of Desdemona, Othello’s wife. Iago’s plans revolve around him creating mistrust between Othello and Desdemona. He is evil and a sadist who rejoices at other people’s misfortunes (McCulloch, Helen, and Carey, 2016).

Differences

The two main characters have different personalities. One of the differences is that Othello is respected in the forces and is not afraid to listen to complains (Act 1, scene 2) while Iago is allocated small duties and is not respected in the forces. Second difference is that Othello is brave as is seen when he goes to war with the Turks and wins the war (Act 2, scene 1). Iago on the other hand is a coward who avoids confrontation as seen when he tries to kill Cassio from behind and only ends ups cutting one of his legs (Act 5, scene 1). The thirds difference is that Othello is seen by the audience as someone who is honest (Act 1, scene 2) while Iago is dishonest and has evil plans from the start. However, Othello’s honesty is brought to question based on the decisions he makes in (Act 5, scene 2) of killing his wife and later killing himself.

Similarities

Othello and Iago are similar in some ways. One of the similarities is that they both betray people close them. Iago betrays Othello, Emilia, Cassio and Rodrigues while Othello betrays his wife Desdemona and Cassio. He plans on how his once good friend will be murdered as seen in Act 3, scene 3, he orders that in 3 days he should get news that Cassio is dead. He also kills his wife, the woman he loved deeply. The second similarity is that they both treat their wives with disrespect and they both end up killing them.  Othello refers to his wife as a whore when talking to her, “What, not a whore?” (Act 4, scene 2). Iago on the other hand threatens his wife when she tells the truth that Desdemona is innocent, he tells her, “Be wise, and get you home” (Act 5, scene 2), then uses the same sword he used on Rodrigues to stab his wife.

The third similarity is that they both are artistic characters whereby Othello has the art of poetry and romantic images while Iago is clever for plots that lead to tragedy in the lives of the characters involved in the play. Othello convinces Desdemona marry him with stories of his war. He uses poetry describe to Desdemona how he was a brave and courageous soldier during war. Iago on the other is a schemer and knows how to use Othello’s weakness (jealousy) to destroy his life. Iago befriends everyone and knows how to keep them close for his own gain as seen in the whole act.

Conclusion

It is not always common that the villain and the hero are friends but in Othello (The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice, the antagonist and protagonist are friends but Othello only comes to find out later that Iago was not his true friend. The two both serve in the army and come into contact often and this strengthens their relationship while building up the jealousy in Iago. Shakespeare however differentiates the two through personality, character and actions which at the end lead to the same ending, both kill their wives.  Othello kills his wife Desdemona because he thinks she is unfaithful while Iago kills Emilia for telling the truth that Desdemona was innocent.

References

  • Biography. (2017). William Shakespeare. Retrieved from https://www.biography.com/people/william-shakespeare-9480323?_escaped_fragment_=
  • McCulloch, Helen, & Carey. (2016). Play Summary. Retrieved from https://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/o/othello/play-summary?lci
  • Shakespeare, W., & Rolfe, W. J. (2011). Shakespeare’s Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice. Charleston, SC: BiblioBazaar.
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