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The pathological jealousy of iago


Iago's crimes define pathological jealousy and a sheer desire for revenge. His acts

are pre-meditated and have reasons. In various soliloquies, he reveals grudges that, while

mostly false or overblown, present themselves as clear to Iago. Iago masters duplicity,

even remarking himself "I am not what I am." (line 67) Many of his dark motives are

probably concealed from the audience. In his few soliloquies, he presents definitive

motives for his vengeful desires. His passions are so dark that they can only be understood

by himself.

The first scene depicts Iago conversing with Roderigo. Iago's goals, grudges, and

furthermore his motives are revealed. His plan is calculated and pre-meditated with

Roderigo being a mere source of cash. Iago explains his disbelief on not being selected for

lieutenant. He boasts of his military victories "at Rhodes, at Cyprus, and on other grounds/

Christened and heathen, must be beleed and calmed/ By debitor and creditor." (lines 30-

32) Iago was denied a position of high valor and takes umbrage to the person responsible.

That person is Othello. Othello chooses Michael Cassio, whom Iago denounces as "a

Florentine." (line 21) Iago has been beaten by a Florentine with (as Iago thinks) less

military ability than him. This deep wound commands Iago to revenge.

Iago cannot bear Othello's being a superior figure. Iago comments on Othello's

going to war as "Another of his fathom they have none/ To lead their business." (lines

153-154) Iago insults Othello's skin color profusely behind his back. As the first part of his

plan, Iago seeks to arouse Brabantio to the fact that the Moor has "robbed" (line 88) him

of his daughter. Iago refers to Othello as an "old black ram/ tupping your white ewe." This

tasteless reference pictures Othello's ugly black skin with Desdemona's beautiful white

skin. Iago convinces Brabantio that he must rescue his daughter from "the devil," another

racial reference to Othello's black skin. Iago never identifies Othello except with remarks

such as "the Barbary horse" mounting Desdemona. Brabantio's cousins, Iago rages "will

be jennets," (line 14) black Spanish horses. The racism and hatred behind Iago is only

worsened by Othello's high position and high popularity with the people; far higher than

Iago will ever reach. Thus, Iago hatches a plot, not out of sheer malice or insanity, but out

of a pathological jealousy beyond comprehension.

Othello demonstrates his noble nature when confronted by Brabantio. He coolly

remarks "I must be found./ My parts, my title, and my perfect soul/ Shall manifest me

rightly." (lines 30-32) This remarkable presentation even causes Iago to swear in

appreciation, "By Janus." He is insanely jealous over Othello's skill. The Duke does not

even notice Brabantio just greets Othello as "valiant Othello." (line 48) Iago's first plan is

foiled by the composure and sheer power of Othello. This only maddens Iago.

Later, Iago scorns the Moor and Cassio. While his many accusations are

unbelievable, they present motive and a pathological desire to ruin these people's lives for

specific reasons. Iago believes that Othello won Desdemona, not by stories of perils, but

by "bragging and telling her fanatical lies." (line 216) Iago also denounces Cassio as "a

slipper and subtle knave, a finder out of occasions, that has an eye can stamp and

counterfeit advantages, though true advantage never present itself; a devilish knave." (lines

229-231) Iago is able to denounce anyone through fictitious reasoning. In this way, he can

make up reasons to seek revenge on innocent people. He also scoffs at Cassio's courteous

remarks to women. He says that Desdemona is a "most exquisite lady . . . most fresh and

delicate . . . indeed perfection." (lines 16-22) Iago mocks him "Well, happiness to their

sheets!" (line 23) While these are blatantly libelous remarks, Iago sees these damning traits

and gives bold reasons for plotting against Othello and Cassio.

In a soliloquy, Iago gives a clear presentation of his grievances. These vile lies are

believable only to Iago. He states, "Now, I do love her too,/Not out of absolute lust-

through peradventure/ I stand accountant for as great a sin-/ But partly led to diet my

revenge . . . The lusty Moor hath leaped into my seat . . . And nothing shall content my

soul/ Till I am evened with him wife for wife . . . I fear Cassio with my nightcap too."

(lines 265-280) Though these accusations are false and have no basis, Iago displays his

grudges and motives to himself. Though Iago may be stretching the bounds of sanity, he

still finds reason.

The rest of the play shows the course of Iago's plan. He totally succeeds in his

goals despite his own miserable fate. Iago's deep resentment of his victims can only be

understood by himself. Iago's pathological schemes were masterfully performed by a man

with tremendous skill and motive. Iago sought revenge and obtained it.

Source: Essay UK -

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