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There are several reasons given for Iago's hatred of, and intended ruination of Othello. First, he is insulted by Othello's promotion of Cassio; he felt that he deserved the promotion. That is probably the most obvious reason. Second, he is suspicious that Othello is sleeping with his wife, Emilia, although there really is no foundation for this suspicion. Third, there are some hints that Iago really desires Desdemona and is jealous of Iago for his relationship with her.
He is clearly presented as the villain, and as such, can be played simply as evil, but most actors will search for greater depth than this. Most close readers will also look for this greater depth. Many modern productions play up the race issue, painting Iago as a racist who is unhappy with the Moor's marriage to the white Desdemona. There is some textual support for this, in Iago's conversations with Othello when he is trying to convince Othello that he and Desdemona have too many differences to be happy together.
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