What is the relationship between Iago and Roderigo in Othello?

1 Answer | Add Yours

Top Answer

mstultz72's profile pic

mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

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.


We’ve answered 317,631 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question