Iago and Othello do, surprisingly, have similarities that may not be noticeable at first due to their stark differences.
- Othello is vulnerable due to his insecurities. He is not Venetian; is a black man in a white society; is presumed to be many years older than his wife and lacks sophistication. Iago is able to manipulate a man
unsure of himself in civil society
despite his initial confidence because Desdemona "had eyes and chose me."
- Iago is also insecure. He is emotionally threatened and aware of his own inferiority to Cassio in whose life he sees a "daily beauty." To add insult to injury, Cassio has been promoted above him and is "a Florentine" - not even Venetian. Such insecurities lead Iago though to ponder revenge
"I follow him to serve my turn upon him"
as having been usurped (in his view), he must make light of the situation to avoid the embarrassment it has caused him.
- Othello is a military hero and has done well in battle.
- Iago has conquests of his own on the battlefield.
- Othello and Iago conspire together to reveal Desdemona and Cassio's alleged affair. Unfortunately, despite their different intentions, this fact makes them more alike and the consequences of their actions will be devastating, even though Othello believed he needed to " again thy former light restore", almost saving Desdemona from herself whereas Iago is an "eternal villain."
- Othello becomes obsessed with the apparent proof that Desdemona has been unfaithful with Cassio. Iago is also obsessed with infidelity and believes Emilia has been unfaithful with Othello as Othello has "leap'd into my seat."
- Othello and Iago are similar due to both feeling
excluded from upper-class Venetian society.
Othello's principles of loyalty and honor make it difficult for him to perceive malice in others and at the end he cannot conceive the wickedness of Iago, wondering if he indeed has cloven hooves for feet.
Their shared sense of inadequacy has reduced them both to the same end.