The most interesting and round character in the tragic play Othello, by William Shakespeare, is "honest" Iago. Through carefully thought-out words and actions, Iago manipulates others to do things in which he benefits. Iago is the main driving force in "Othello," pushing several characters toward their tragic end.
Iago is not a traditional villain for he plays a unique and complex role. Unlike most villains in tragic plays, evidence of Iago's deception is not clearly visible.
Iago is smart and an excellent judge of people and their character. He uses this keen sense of knowledge to his advantage. For example, Iago knows that Roderigo has feelings for Desdemona and assumes he would do anything to have her as his own. Iago attempts to manipulate Roderigo. IAGO: It cannot be that Desdemona should long continue her love to a Moor- put money in thy purse-nor he his to her. It was a violent commencement in her, and thou shalt see an answerable sequestration- put money in thy purse.
[Act 1, Scene III, Line 332-335] By playing on Roderigo's hopes, Iago swindles money and jewels from Roderigo, making himself a substantial profit. IAGO: "Thus do I ever make my fool my purse." [Act 1, Scene III, Line 362] "Honest" Iago cleverly disguises his own goals as Roderigo blindly follows him. Iago continually operates with anterior motives in Othello. Iago takes advantage of his friendships with Cassio as well as Roderigo. Cassio blindly follows Iago thinking that Iago is trying to help him but during this whole time Iago is planning the demise of Cassio, his supposed friend. In order to obtain Cassio's position as Lieutenant, Iago convinces Cassio to take another drink, knowing very well that this will make him drunk and disgrace him.
Iago is definitely trying to tarnish Cassio's character by saying the following: IAGO: "What a man! 'Tis a night of revels: the gallants desire it" [Act II, Scene III, Line 32] Iago is able to make Cassio defy his own reasoning as he reluctantly takes another drink. As a result of his devious scheming, Iago achieves his goal and Othello terminates Cassio as his lieutenant. Iago successfully manipulates the people around him by building a trust, a trust in which all of Iago's victims believe to be honest and true. The friendship and honesty Iago falsely imposes on Othello makes it easy for Othello to never imagine the possibility that Iago has any evil intentions / motives . Othello holds Iago as his close friend and advisor.
He believes Iago to be a person, "of exceeding honesty, [who] knows all qualities, with a learned spirit." [Act III, Scene III, Line 273-274] Iago uses the trust Othello has in him to turn Othello into a jealous man. The cleverness of Iago is that he works upon the one of the tragic flaws of Othello. Othello has the tendency to take everything he is told at face value without questioning the circumstances which surround it. He has no reason to doubt the accusations of Desdemonas' cheating, for the "honest" Iago has to be telling the truth, thus is successful in turning Othello against his own wife. Toward the end of Act IV Iago's influence can be seen in the conversation between Othello and his wife when he asks for handkerchief. Iago has created the impression that Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio knowing that this will stir up a jealous rage in Othello, transforming him from a flawless, military leader to a man driven to murder.
In Shakespeare's "Othello," Iago carefully and masterfully entraps the other characters satisfying his own appetite for revenge. Through deception Iago creates the appearance of good, which ultimately fools the people around him into thinking he is loyal and honest. While simultaneously implanting images and lies into the heads of Othello, Cassio and Roderigo, Iago causes the downfall of them all. It is the trust from ".