What is the relationship between Iago and Roderigo in Othello?



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Posted on (Answer #1)

In Othello, Shakespeare begins the play with two foils, Iago and Roderigo at night: one hidden and the other in plain sight.  The former is a villain, the latter a fool, but both are be dark lords of misrule.

Here's what they have in common:

  • Both are targeting Desdemona (Roderigo as thwarted love; Iago as revenge bait against Othello)
  • Both are jealous of Othello
  • Both are expose Desdemona's secret elopement to Brabantio (Roderigo publicly; Iago privately)
  • Both lose their battle against Othello in Act I (the Duke condones the marriage)
  • Both seek revenge in Cyprus (away from the Duke's protection)
  • Both are id-based characters (exhibit child-like behavior and seek immediate pleasure: Roderigo=lust; Iago=suffering of others)

Here's how they are different:

  • Roderigo is public in Venice and private in Cyprus; Iago is private in Venice and public and private in Cyprus: (as such, they are two halves of the hidden, dark side).
  • Roderigo is pure passion (he threatens suicide); Iago is calculated passion (he wants only to wound others)
  • Roderigo pays Iago.  Roderigo is the "money" and Iago is the "purse."
  • Roderigo is a fool.  Iago admits, "I am not what I am" to Roderigo, and yet Roderigo continues to believe and pay him
  • Roderigo thinks his using Iago for his dirty work, but Iago is really using Roderigo to be his scapegoat.  Iago uses Rogerigo to expose Cassio.


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