Othello

Iago: Influential Villain or Powerless Character of Fiction?

In William Shakespeare's Othello, the deceptive Iago weaves an intricate web of lies with which he enmeshes Othello alongside his many other victims. His manipulation of other characters, machinations that serve as the driving force behind the plot, and sly staging of various scenes in the play not only establish him as the play's beguiling villain, but also reveal that he performs the roles of the play's surrogate playwright, director, and prompter. Whereas Shakespeare's use of theatrical language highlights Iago's multiple theatrical roles and influence in the play, the resulting dramatic self-reference provides him with an avenue by which he can step outside the play's realm and deceive the audience just as he dupes Othello, Cassio, and himself; thus, Iago reaffirms himself as the play's villain. At the same time, it undermines the appearance of power that Iago possesses because it reinforces that Iago is merely another fictional character in the play that lacks the volition to be able to control his future just like all the other characters. A character who rebels against authority, Iago refuses to subjugate himself to another and tries, even when all hope is lost, to reassert his power through...

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