The Consummate Villain Essay Research Paper The

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The Consummate Villain Essay, Research Paper The Consummate Villain According to Webster s College Dictionary a villain is a cruelly malicious person who isinvolved in or devoted to wickedness or crime or a character in a play, novel or the like whoconstitutes an important evil agency in the plot. William Shakespeare developed many schemingMachiavellian characters of this sort. No other villain of Shakespeare s depiction is of acomparable magnitude to Iago in Othello. Iago is, from the outset of the tragedy to its conclusion, a motived malignity, according to Samuel Taylor Coleridge. His character is devoid of allintegrity and is able to weave a believable tale that will serve only to gain favor for himself. Iago isthe most consummate of Shakespeare s villains. Many believe

Edmund of King Lear to be Shakespeare s most evil miscreant. Edmund sshrewdness is not comparable to that of Iago, though. Edmund goes to great lengths to estrangehis half-brother Edgar from their shared father, Gloucester. His character is motivated by selfishdesire and a need for the legitimacy that he had always lacked. The scope of his actions can hardlybe compared with that of Iago. Iago is a man whose life is driven solely by a desire for revenge. Inthe quest for this revenge, many people are killed as a result of the web he weaves, a complexprevarication that would seem believable to even the most suspecting person. Edmund is aMachiavel: Iago is the Machiavel. Iago s true emotions cannot be fully understood because of his superb mastery to concealhis true thoughts and

emotions. His injured vanity is clearly the source of his contempt and thus,his motive. It is intelligible that Iago is upset for being passed over in favor of Cassio despitesupport from three great ones in the city (1). Iago cannot comprehend that one who has neverset a squadron on the field would be chosen as lieutenant under Othello (2). His hatred towardOthello and his jealousy toward Cassio become immediately evident, but he must disguise hisdeep disappointment and conceal his plans for revenge. He reinforces his image as a loyal soldier,going so far as to say, though in the trade of war I have slain men/ I hold it very stuff o theconscience/ To do no contrived murder. I lack iniquity… while in the presence of Othello (8).Iago then speaks of having had the opportunity to

kill Roderigo, but makes it very clear that hewould do such impulsively in hopes of boosting his image as the dedicated soldier. He is also able to mask his contempt for Cassio while speaking to Othello. The masculine straightforward mannerin which he gives his opinions of Cassio is one of a sense of loyalty to his fellow soldier, the newlyappointed lieutenant. He possesses an uncanny ability to tell people what it is they want to hear,and the truthfulness of his statements is never questioned. The varying demeanors he assumeswith each of the different characters against whom he is scheming paint a picture of Iago as anenigmatic man whose own personality is never portrayed. Iago s blend of intellectuality and cynicism contribute to his status as a greatShakespearean villain.

Although his intellectuality is extremely misguided, it allows him todetermine the events of the play. Cassio fall prey to Iago s cunning when he is convinced to speakto Desdemona in an attempt to be reinstated as lieutenant. Desdemona, who will speak to Othelloof Cassio s loss of position, says of Iago, for having had Cassio talk to her, that s an honestfellow (57). Later, Lodovico goes so far as to say that Iago is a very valiant fellow (57).Because of his intelligence and Machiavellian instinct, Iago leaves many characters thinking him tobe both honest and extremely helpful. Othello tells Iago, I know thou rt full of love and honesty (61). It is maddening at times that Iago is able to trick Othello into thinking of him in such anoff-base manner. Iago has complete influence