Word of the Day - Wednesday, April 6th

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Word of the Day


Clever Clue of the Month

The Cruciverbalist


Iago (ee-AH-goh)

Common clue: Othello villian

Iago is a fictional character in Shakespeare's Othello. Iago, one of Othello's best friends, spends most of the play attempting to bring about Othello's downfall out of jealousy. He eventually does destroy Othello's reputation (which leads the Moor to kill himself), but sets the stage to his own doom when his wife Emilia reveals the whole of his plot. At the end of the play Iago is ordered imprisoned and executed by Cassio, Othello's chief lieutenant.

Lawrence Fishbourne and Kenneth Brannagh as Othello and Iago.

Iago is one of Shakespeare's most sinister villains. Shakespeare contrasts Iago with Othello's nobility and integrity of character. He has more lines in the play than Othello does - the most any of Shakespeare's non-title characters has.

Iago fits into the character type of the malcontent because of his bitter and cynical view of what he sees in the play.

While the play suggests motives for Iago's hateful scheming, many readers feel that a deeper root remains hidden. Iago cites suspicion that his wife has been unfaithful to him with Othello or bitterness that Othello passed him up for a big promotion. Whatever his deepest motivation, his hatred towards the Moor is unwavering and moves the action of the play forward. Some modern directors interpret Iago's hate as racism.

The role of Iago has been played in theatre by many famous film stars, such as Ian McKellen, Christopher Plummer, Laurence Olivier and Kenneth Branagh.

If this story was set in modern times Iago might well have been jealous of Othello's superior physique which would explain his hatred and scheming to ruin his reputation. Obviously the story is not set in modern times and this was not the case.

Iago is also a character in Walt Disney's Aladdin, a talking parrot who later recanted his evil ways in the movie sequels and television series. However, he is still largely conniving, rude, and greedy. He is voiced in both film and TV series by Gilbert Gottfried.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Iago".