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Othello - Battle of Good vs. Evil

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Othello - Battle of Good vs. Evil

"I am not what I am." What is Iago? -- as distinct from what he
pretends to be -- and what are his motives?

In Shakespeare's, Othello, the reader is presented the classic

battle between the deceitful forces of evil and the innocence of good.

It are these forces of evil that ultimately lead to the breakdown of

Othello, a noble venetian moor, well-known by the people of Venice as

a honourable soldier and a worthy leader. Othello's breakdown results

in the muder of his wife Desdemona. Desdemona is representative of

the good in nature. Good can be defined as forgiving, honest,

innocent and unsuspecting. The evil contained within Othello is by no

means magical or mythical yet is represented by the character Iago.

Iago is cunning, untrustworthy, selfish, and plotting. He uses these

traits to his advantage by slowly planning his own triumph while

watching the demise of others. It is this that is Iago's motivation.

The ultimate defeat of good by the wrath of evil. Not only is it in

his own nature of evil that he suceeds but also in the weaknesses of

the other characters. Iago uses the weaknesses of Othello,

specifically jealousy and his devotion to things as they seem, to

conquer his opposite in Desdemona. From the start of the play, Iago's

scheming ability is shown when he convinces Roderigo to tell about

Othello and Desdemonda's elopement to Desdemona's father, Brabantio.

Confidentally Iago continues his plot successfully, making fools of

others, and himself being rewarded. Except Roderigo, no one is aware

of Iago's plans. This is because Iago pretends to be an honest man

loyal to his superiors. The fact that Othello himself views Iago as

trustworthy and honest gives the evil within Iago a perfect

unsuspecting victim for his schemes. The opportunity to get to

Desdemona through Othello is one temptation that Iago cannot refuse.

He creates the impression that Desdemona is having an affair with

Cassio in order to stir the jealousy within Othello. It is this

jealousy and the ignorance of Othello that lead to the downfall of

Desdemona; the one truely good natured character in the play.

As the play opens we are immediately introduced to the

hostility of Iago against Othello. Iago has been appointed the

position of servant to Othello instead of the more prestigous position

of lieutenant. Michael Cassio has been appointed this position. Iago

feels betrayed because he considers him self more qualified than

Cassio to serve as lieutenant. Iago then foreshadows his plans for

Othello to Roderigo, "O, sir, content you. / I follow him to serve my

turn upon him (Act I, Scene I)". Iago already realizes that Othello

thinks about him as an honest man. Roderigo is used by Iago as an

apprentence and someone to do his "dirty" work. Roderigo is naively

unsuspecting. As the play shifts from Venice to Cyprus there is an

interesting contrast. Venice, a respectful and honourable town is

overshadowed by the war torn villages of Cyprus. It could be said

that Venice represents good or specfically Desdemona and that Cyprus

represents evil in Iago. Desdemona has been taken from her

peacefullness and brought onto the grounds of evil. Iago commits his

largest acts of deceit in Cyprus, fittingly considering the

atmosphere. Ironically, the venetians feel the Turks are their only

enemy while in fact Iago is in hindsight the one man who destroys

their stable state. Act II Scene III shows Iago's willing ability to

manipulate characters in the play. Iago convinces Montano to inform

Othello of Cassio's weakness for alchohol hoping this would rouse

disatisfaction by Othello. Iago when forced to tell the truth against

another character does so very suspiciously. He pretends not to

offend Cassio when telling Othello of the fight Cassio was involved

in, but Iago secretly wants the worst to become of Cassio's situation

without seeming responsible. Cassio is relieved of his duty as

lieutenant. With Cassio no longer in the position of lieutenant, this

gives Iago the opportunity to more effectively interact with and

manipulate Othello. By controlling Othello, Iago would essentially

control Desdemona.

To reach Desdemona directly is unforseeable for Iago

considering that Othello is superior to him. It is for this reason

that Iago decides to exploit Othello. If Iago can turn Othello

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Keywords: good vs evil othello quotes, othello good vs evil

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