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Iago is one of Shakespeare's most sinister villains, often considered such because of the unique trust that Othello places in him, which he betrays while maintaining his reputation for honesty and dedication.Shakespeare contrasts Iago with Othello's nobility and integrity.
Iago then engineers a fight between Cassio and Roderigo in which the latter is killed (by Iago himself, double-crossing his ally), but the former merely wounded.
Iago's plan appears to succeed when Othello kills Desdemona, who is innocent of Iago's charges.
The Moor is arrested, transported from Cyprus to Venice, and tortured, but refuses to admit his guilt.
He is condemned to exile; Desdemona's relatives eventually execute him.
The ensign then seeks revenge by disclosing to "the squadron leader" (the tale's Cassio counterpart), the Moor's involvement in Desdemona's death.
The two men denounce the Moor to the Venetian Seignory.
Soon afterwards, however, Emilia brings Iago's treachery to light, and Iago kills her in a fit of rage before being arrested.
He remains famously reticent when pressed for an explanation of his actions before he is arrested: "Demand me nothing. From this time forth I never will speak word." Following Othello's suicide, Cassio, now in charge, condemns Iago to be imprisoned and tortured as punishment for his crimes.
With 1,097 lines, Iago has more lines in the play than Othello himself. Bradley said that "evil has nowhere else been portrayed with such mastery as in the evil character of Iago", The mystery surrounding Iago's actual motives continues to intrigue readers and fuel scholarly debate.
Iago is a Machiavellian schemer and manipulator, as he is often referred to as "honest Iago", displaying his skill at deceiving other characters so that not only do they not suspect him, but they count on him as the person most likely to be truthful. In discussing The Tragedy of Othello, scholars have long debated Iago's role—highlighting the complexity of his character.