It can be argued that in William Shakespeare’s Othello, Iago is secretly in love with Othello. Let’s take a look at the evidence that supports this claim.
On the surface, Iago is angry with Othello for giving Cassio a promotion instead of him. Iago claims Cassio merely has passive, book knowledge whereas he himself has active, practical experience serving as a soldier. His jealousy of Cassio and anger with Othello inspire his sinister plan to ruin their lives by convincing Othello that his wife, Desdemona, is having an affair with Cassio. These are the reasons we are given for Iago’s behavior, but if we look closer, perhaps there are other reasons hidden beneath the surface.
Perhaps Iago’s romantic love for Othello is what drives his insidious agenda. It is possible that he is jealous of Cassio not for being promoted, but for his closeness to Othello. He may also be envious of Desdemona for her marriage to Othello. By convincing Othello that Desdemona and Cassio are romantically involved, Iago strengthens his relationship with Othello while turning him against Cassio and Desdemona.
In Shakespeare’s time, homosexuality was often frowned upon and not considered socially acceptable. Perhaps Iago offers us Othello’s promotion of Cassio as superficial justification for his evil behavior because he is not yet willing or able to admit his romantic attraction to Othello.