“I HATE THE MOOR”
– IAGO IN OTHELLO BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (ACT 1, SCENE 3)
Iago is such a terrifying character because he revels in what he is doing. The motivating reasons can be analysed: broken pride, a sense of betrayal, jealousy, ambition, desire for power over others – or even unrequited love turned sour, if you want to read it that way. It’s true that villains often fool themselves into believing their actions are justified, or the fault of fate or caused by others; but the main factor with Iago is that he knows he is the villain and sadistically enjoys the suffering he causes. His motivation is the full embracing of enmity.
I hate the Moor:
And it is thought abroad, that ‘twixt my sheets
He has done my office: I know not if’t be true;
But I, for mere suspicion in that kind,
Will do as if for surety. He holds me well;
The better shall my purpose work on him.
Cassio’s a proper man: let me see now:
To get his place and to plume up my will
In double knavery—How, how? Let’s see:—
After some time, to abuse Othello’s ear
That he is too familiar with his wife.
He hath a person and a smooth dispose
To be suspected, framed to make women false.
The Moor is of a free and open nature,
That thinks men honest that but seem to be so,
And will as tenderly be led by the nose
As asses are.
I have’t. It is engender’d. Hell and night
Must bring this monstrous birth to the world’s light.