Does Iago have valid reasons to hate Othello?

Expert Answers
coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Some may say that there is no valid reason or justification for hate. Having said that, Iago as a towering character in the play Othello by William Shakespeare has plenty of cause to resent Othello.

Look for evidence/quotes to support these ideas:

1) How far is Iago a "jilted" friend and colleague? Why was he passed over for promotion by Othello even though he thought he was ably and amply qualified for the role he wanted?

2) How does he feel about all the attention Othello gets? Could he be a unappreciated "king-maker" who got no credit for the achievements the nobility laud Othello for?

3) Could he be a closet racist?

4) Last but not least - Othello has the attention of a genteel and beautiful girl who hardly notices Iago in the way he might like. How does that make him feel? Use terms like jealous, resentful,embittered,unappreciated, used or envious as well as hate.

scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Just a couple of more additions to the previous post. Iago is not a closet racist.  His language beginning in Act 1, Scene 1, is racist. He constantly refers to Othello's skin color and compares him to animals, hoping to incite racist feelings in others.  Moreover, he truly believes that Desdemona will fall out of love with Othello because of his race and appearance.  So, he obviously hates Othello in part because of his race.

One last point, Iago--for some reason--thinks that Othello slept with his wife.  He makes at least two comments earlier on about Othello fulfilling his (Iago's) office between the sheets.  These comments could truly be figurative, but Iago mentions that he doesn't care if the rumors are false--he's going to get back at Othello anyway.