In Othello, why does Iago want to destroy Othello, Desdemona and Cassio, despite the fact that he already got Cassio fired?

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Jay Gilbert, Ph.D. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Great question, and one which is never satisfactorily answered in the play. Why exactly is Iago so consumed by his desire to bring down not only Othello, but everyone around him, too?

At the beginning of the play, Iago says that he "hate[s] the Moor" because he has elected Cassio to be his lieutenant, even though Iago sees this as a gross mistake, as Cassio has never "set a squadron in the field," and is generally underqualified for the post. Iago feels that Othello has unfairly overlooked him, and as such, he wants to show Othello that he has done wrong to choose Cassio for this position. He...

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kristinng | Student

Also, Iago believes that Othello has "twixt' my sheets. He's done my office" (Act 1 scene iii). He accuses Othello of having an affair with his wife Emilia and feel emasculated by this. "I do suspect the lusty Moor Hath leaped into my seat". Out of shame, he has decided that "nothing can or shall content my soul Till I am even with him, wife for wife" (Act 2 scene i)

That may be a reason why he continues with his evil plot even after Cassio has been dismissed.

mkcapen1 | Student

In "Othello" Iago is very jealous of Othello.  He wants to be in a better position but he is out ranked by a Moor.  He is angry that a Moor has power over him.  Throughout the play he makes mention of Othello's color and is negative about it.

Then, Iago thinks that there is no way that a woman as lovely as Desdemona is going to love someone like Othello.  Instead, she is captivated with him and loves him with all of her heart and soul.  He again is jealous so he begins to set his plot to destroy Othello into motion.

Casio has also got the position that he had wanted and he knows a good way to cause havoc for all three.

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