Hidden Motives in Shakespeare Part Seven

This is an essay on hidden motives in Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Othello.

After having spent the first scene bashing Othello and plotting against him, Iago meets up with Othello and as he had said was his plan, he pretends to be Othello’s loyal friend, and feigns disgust at hearing Barbantio bash Othello.

He prated,

And spoke such scurvy and provoking terms

Against your honor

That, with the little godliness I have,

I did full hard forbear him. (I.ii.6-10)

He even goes so far as to say that he could hardly restrain his anger at hearing Barbantio’s insults against Othello. Iago is a cunning manipulator and he even draws in Roderigo into his revenge scheme. “I have told thee often, and I re-tell thee again and again, I hate the Moor. My cause is hearted, thine hath no less reason. Let us be conjunctive in our revenge against him” (I.iii.354-357). Iago takes advantage of anyone he can in his fixation on getting revenge for not receiving the position of lieutenant.

Iago soon reveals that he confide in Roderigo not because of any great friendship or trust, but that Roderigo is also a part of his plan for revenge. Roderigo essentially serves as a stepping stone in Iago’s plot for revenge.

Thus do I ever make my fool my purse –

For I mine own gained knowledge should profane

If I would time expend with such a snipe

But for my sport and profit. I hate the Moor. (I.iii.365-338)


    He is manipulating Roderigo in order to help him get revenge on Othello. Iago also reveals that he is motivated to get revenge on Othello not only because he was passed up for the lieutenant position, as he has mentioned several times, but because there is also a rumor that Othello has slept with Iago’s wife. This reveals that he is also motivated by hate and jealousy.

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