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Honest Iago

The poet Coleridge appropriately described the character of Iago as being one of "motiveless malignity." Throughout the play Iagos motives are secondary to, and seem only to serve as justification for, his actions. Iago is driven by his nature of character. To discuss Coleridges assessment we must look at Iagos characterfrom Iagos point of view and that of the other charactershis motives, methods, and pawns. Through some carefully thought-out words and actions, Iago is able to manipulate others to do things in a way that benefits him; all the while he is pushing Othello, Desdemona, Roderigo, Emilia, and Cassio to their tragic end. According to Websters New International Dictionary, Second Edition, malignity is partially defined as "disposition to do evil." "Motiveless" is implied in the definition of malignity. That one has a "disposition to do evil" is to say evil is in the nature of the malignant person; motive is not an issue. "Motiveless malignity" is redundant in the pure meaning of the words. Does Coleridge mean to say that Iago cannot help himself from being evil or does he mean that what Iago did was without motive? For the sake of this discussion, Coleridge intends the later. Abbott states "in truth character is what a person is; reputation is what he is supposed to be." (Websters) Is Iago evil? No, he is not. Walter Lippmann says that "evil is not a quality of things as such. It is a quality of our relation to them." (Websters) Iago is not opposed to good (a partial definition of evil) however, he is amoral and malicious. How does Iago see himself? "Others there are who, trimmed in forms and visages of duty, keep yet their hearts attending on themselves, and throwing but shows of service on their lords do well thrive by them, and when they have lined their coats do themselves homage. These fellows have some soul, and such a one do I profess myself." [Act I, Scene I, Line 49] Iago says of Cassio that "he ha...

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