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Beyond Good and Evil

  • Date Submitted: 11/12/2012 06:23 PM
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Jessica Drummond
Hirsh
English 4140 – Shakespeare Later Works
30 September 2012
Beyond Good and Evil
In the tragedy of Othello, the plot is driven by the relentless revenge of the antagonist Iago. His hatred of the main character Othello causes him to weave a tangled web of lies that ultimately leads to the demise of four characters and secures a fate worse than death for himself. Using his power of manipulation, Iago plants the seed of deception that Othello’s new bride has been unfaithful to him thus plunging him into a jealous frenzy “so strong that [not even] judgment can […] cure” (2.ii.298-299). Furthermore, Iago’s revenge scheme is so powerful that it manifests itself in Othello. Upon hearing of his wife Desdemona’s alleged infidelity with his right hand man Cassio, Othello constructs a revenge plot of his own involving their deaths.
The fact that both these characters are eventually driven to murder to satisfy their vengeance is only one of the many similarities shared by Othello and Iago; however the differences in their execution of those plans depicts their character to the audience. Iago is aware of his jealousy and he accepts that it has become the cause and the motive behind what he does. On the other hand, Othello lives in the delusion that his actions are based on duty and righteousness stating that what he did was not “in hate, but all in honour” (5.ii.294). In creating these similarities between the antagonist and protagonist, Shakespeare blurs the line between hero and villain; showing that the complexity of humankind cannot simply be characterized to extremes such as good or evil.
Shakespeare tries to convey that Iago and Othello are concerned with their appearances with respect to the other characters. At the start of the play, Othello is portrayed as an impressive figure, respected by many in high society for his rank as a General in the Venetian army and his exotic background. Initially the audience sees Othello as an eloquent...

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