William Shakespeare’S Othello
In William Shakespeare’s play Othello, there lurks an evil that far is surpasses the darkness of the devil, it lies in the antagonist Iago. Othello who passes Iago up for a promotion simply because Iago is not a arithmetician, swears to take his revenge and destroy the moor and every thing Othello holds dear. Through this Iago plays judge, jury, and executioner, but is Iago’s justice justified or does his justice go far beyond the point of justice that he crosses the line. Once that line is crossed there is a point of no return. All barriers that may have at one point existed are now broken.
Iago’s justice can never be justified, by taking or causing the bloodshed of the innocent for his own personal gain is no more justified then murder in cold blood. What ever promotion Iago is entitled to or what ever rights he may have is gone when he decides to create his own law. Nor should he posses the power to influence and decide the fate of others. “I hate the Moor;........Hell and night must bring this monstrous birth to the world’s light” (I.ii.20). Iago intend to “abuse Othello’s ear” and convince Othello his wife Desdemona is an adultress, “framed to make women false” (I.i.20). Iago plans to bring the devils evil to earth in order to get his revenge on Othello.
Although Iago’s justice can never be justified his anger pointed towards Othello can be. Despite all the rage, fury, resentment, prejudice, and anger Iago feels towards Othello; Iago feels all this and more to the appointed lieutenant Michael Cassio. For Cassio has never had experience on the battle field, “A fellow almost damn’d in a fair wife; That never set a squadron in the field, Nor the division of a battle knows” (I.i.1). Iago also points out that “preferment goes by letter and affection” (I.i.2). Iago is well aware of the fact that he is more qualified for the position but choices are based upon brain and not achievements on the field.
In Iago’s pursuit of destroying the Moor and achieving his rightful position he destroys so many lives. Michael Cassio is soon striped of his position due to Iago’s deceit. Othello’s fair wife Desdemona is murdered by her own husband after Othello’s mind is poisoned by the “honest” Iago. Iago leads Othello to believe that Cassio and Desdemona are having an affair, Iago not only accomplishes this by words of deceit but by providing “proof”. After attaining the first gift Othello ever gave to Desdemona he plans “in Cassio’s lodging lose this napkin, and let him find it. Trifles light as air Are to the jealous confirmations strong as proofs of holy writ: this may do something. The Moor already changes with my poison: Dangerous conceits are in the natures poisons, Which at the first are scarce found to distaste but with a little act upon blood burn like the mines of sulphur” (III.iii.50).
After deciding the fate of Michael Cassio, Desdemona, Othello, Roderigo, Emilia, and his own, Iago can no longer justify his actions or his revenge when confronted. Othello asks “why hath thus ensnared my soul and body” all Iago could say in response is “demand me nothing; what you know, you know: from this time forth I never will speak word” (V.ii.90). In Iago’s silence and refusal to give “justified” reasons to his crusade is speechlessness. If his reasons were in deed justified Iago would have spoken in his own defense.
In the end of this Shakespeare tragedy order is restored, Iago is brought to justice. But not before the blood of the innocent is shed. Revenge by hurting and condemning the innocent while in pursuit of personal gain is never justified. Although Iago’s anger towards Othello may have been, Iago’s justice crosses the line. All barriers that separate the human race from man and animal have been broken down. For Iago to decide the fate of so many innocent in pursuit of hurting Othello makes him no different than Satan.