Iago – The Machiavellian villain
To copy down: A Machiavellian is a term used to
describe someone whose sole purpose is to
manipulate and corrupt others for their own gain.
They are often seen as a “puppet master” – they
use others as tools to get what they want.
Wednesday 17th July
“The end justifies the means”
– This was the belief of Machiavelli, a
Medieval political thinker, where the
term comes from
The Machiavellian checklist:
• Is Iago a Machiavellian villain? We will
need to look throughout Othello to
find these characteristics of a typical
Machiavellian villain within Iago.
• 1. Is Iago secretive?
• 2. Is Iago manipulative and cunning?
• 3. Does Iago show a lack of morals?
• 4. Is Iago obsessed with goals,
convinved the ends are justified?
We are going to
explore Question 1
together – then the
other questions we
will split them up
In what ways is
Grade boundaries for this task:
• Grade D – Stating your opinion of Iago
• Grade C – Giving opinion with a reference to the text
(with at least one quote – Shakespearean language
only when writing about the play!)
• Grade B – As for above, but you will then explain how
your quote supports your point. Eg. “This means
• Grade A / A* - Doing all above and then repeating it to
make a new point about Iago
From the mark scheme “showing insight and perception”
1. Is Iago secretive?
• Iago is considered ‘two-faced’ – swears by Janus –
• Act 1 Scene 1 – “I am not what I am”
• Perceived as “honest Iago” all the way through
the play – who calls him this?
• Iago hides behind a mask of the loyal soldier
• Reveals carefully limited information to Roderigo
(when it suits him) but larger parts of his “plot”
only get revealed in his soliloquies to the
2. Is Iago manipulative and cunning?
• Iago manipulates using other’s weaknesses and
• Brabantio’s racism
• Roderigo’s lust for Desdemona
• Othello’s jealousy
• Cassio’s sense of honour (and ability to get drunk
• Questions Cassio’s honesty to create doubt for
3. Does Iago show a lack of morals?
• Immoral – corrupt, liar, vulgar language and
regularly makes sexual references to wind up the
other characters – in particular those images
involving animals! (ie. Primal and inhuman)
• Shows no remorse – at the end, refuses to speak
or apologise for his actions
• Takes advantage of others – leads Roderigo on
thinking he has a chance with Desdemona
• Lets others think he is honest and true
• Murders both his wife and his ‘friend’
4. Is Iago obsessed with
goals, convinced the means justify the
• Iago is obsessed with destruction and revenge
• Believed all his means were justified.
• Reveals himself in soliloquies
• “And it is thought abroad that ‘twixt my sheets
he’s done my office” – Act 1 Scene 3
• “For that I do suspect the lusty Moor hath
leaped into my seat” – Act 2 Scene 1
Come up with 5 questions that have one of the
following as the answer
Splat! – so what do you know?