What reasons does Iago give for his hatred of Othello?

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robertwilliam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Coleridge famously wrote that to come up with reasons as to why Iago does what he does was 'the motive hunting of a motiveless malignity'. I actually think there are rather too many reasons given:

I hate the Moor;
And it is thought abroad that 'twixt my sheets
He has done my office. I know not if't be true;
But I for mere suspicion in that kind
Will do as if for surety. He holds me well;
The better shall my purpose work on him.
Cassio's a proper man. Let me see now:
To get his place, and to plume up my will
In double knavery...

I think there are several reasons in there:

  1. Iago believes that Othello has slept with Emilia, and he wants revenge.
  2. He wants to get the "lieutenantship" from Cassio - which he was passed over for by Othello.
  3. He wants to "plume up" his will - fulfil his desires.
  4. He hates the Moor.

Why one is the right one? Well, he never says. And when he's asked at the very end, he says "What you know, you know", and promises never again to speak. We never know. That's the frustration of it.

Hope it helps!