Thursday, January 20, 2011

3. Identify the protagonist and the antagonist. Are there any foil characters?

As the title hints, the protagonist of this literary work is Othello. He is the character who possesses a hubris which will undoubtedly cause his downfall in the end. Consequently, the antagonist of this story is Iago. Nefarious in nature, Iago brings a new meaning to the character of evil. It appears that it is his ultimate goal to ruin everyone's life around him, leaving only himself happier and better off than before. He despises Othello because he appointed him as his Ancient rather than his Lieutenant. Additionally, he suspects that Othello has slept with his wife Emilia which only deepens his hatred for him. He dislikes Cassio because he is the soldier who was placed in second-in-command above him. He even reveals at the end of act two that he thinks Cassio has probably come on to his wife as well. This can't exactly be argued as strongly since Cassio greeted Emilia with a kiss upon his arrival at a seaport in Cyprus, but it still seems unlikely (II.i.96-99). And finally, Iago's cold-hearted nature is only reinforced by the way he treats Roderigo. Using him for his money and taking advantage of his naivete, he makes promises to Roderigo that he knows he has no capability of ensuring. All in all, Iago is a rather despicable character.

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