One of the many reasons why the character of Ago is still appreciated and celebrated could possibly be because of the way that he was the embodiment of Elizabethan views of Italian politics at the time, This can be seen by the way n which Sago’s ideology is heavily influenced by the work of Niccole?? Machiavelli, therefore the historical context of the play can be said to play a part in the characterization tot Ago as he clearly demonstrates the Elizabethan view of a Machiavellian character as he uses explicit means as a way of gaining power and status, which can be seen in the way that he relishes in the downfall of the characters as a result of his own devilish actions.
In order to distinguish Ago as being a tragic villain we must first understand the definition of a tragic villain. A tragic villain is described as being a character that is either not in full control of their actions or emotions as a result of being a victim of circumstance. Tragic villains are also stated to face a crisis of conscience in which they submit to doing evil and often confused morals and as a result they believe that they are doing moral when in fact they are doing evil. Therefore it is clear that Shakespeare does not present Ago to be that of a typical tragic villain because it is evident that Ago does not possess a conscience and appears to be inherently evil like that of Shakespeare Richard Ill.
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Unlike the description of the classic tragic villain, Ago is completely aware of his actions as seen in his soliloquy in Act 2 Scene I where he expresses that “nothing can or shall content my soul ’till am evened with him, wife for wife; or failing so, yet that I put the Moor at least into a jealousy so strong that judgment cannot cure’. Although it could be suggested that Shakespeare presents Ago in the way that he does in order to create the ultimate cathartic experience for this audience, This can be seen in the way the play evokes fear into the audience’s heads when Ago ironware the audience of “the green-eyed monster” and by the end of the play, even though we feel sorrow because tot the death tot the protagonist, we also feel that justice has been served because at long last the devilish deceiver Ago has been caught.
Also the final events of the play fully highlight to the audience the consequences of jealousy and gullibility and the importance of ocular proof and seeing in comparison to the concept of seeming which of course is the reason for Othello demise, However it can be said that Ago does possess certain factors of which a typical character in character is said to possess, which can be seen by the way in which Ago suffers from hubris. But again this does not help to underpin the idea that Shakespeare presents Ago to be a characteristic tragic villain because it usually the protagonist who suffers from hubris which subsequently brings down the divine punishment upon their head. Whereas in “Othello” Ago suffers from excessive pride seen by the way which is constantly wallows in his own intellectual superiority over the Other characters, Which results in his downfall in the concluding act.
Another lesson learnt by audience from the cathartic experience would possibly be to improve the treatment Of women because of the way in which Ago mistreats his wife Emilie from the very beginning of the play and sets up the precedent for how all women in the play will be treated and as a consequence he is unmasked by Emilie at the end of the play. This is both appropriate and ironic for Sago’s true interests to be revealed to the authorities by his wife, the one person whose silence and powers of speech he underestimated and did not take into account. It is also rather tragic for the audience to see his plot begin to fall apart right at the very last hurdle by the one person he ever came close to loving, thus one can sympathies with critic Final Towel’5 idea that Ago is as much of a tragic figure as any of Shakespearean protagonists.
Throughout the play it is made evident to the audience that language is the source of Sago’s power, this point can be supported in a number of ways including the way in which Ago constantly oscillates between prose and poetic language. This can be seen in the way that when in the presence of those who are socially and/or professionally superior to him we see a lack of ego, whereas hen he is within the company of those who are inferior to him Ago can afford to be less circumspect. The shift to prose with his exchanges with Ordering helps to convey Sago’s base nature, for example in Act 1 Scene iii when Ago explains that “its in ourselves that we are thus or thus.
Our bodies are our gardens, to which our wills are the gardeners” we see the return of Sago use of crass language Which totally denounces love to lust and exposes Sago’s absent sense Of romance. The majority of Sago’s dialogue in the play is saturated with bestial and sexual imagery which is shown early on in “Othello” when Ago exclaims to Abrogation in the opening scene of the play that “an old black ram is tipping your white ewe” and from here on in he continues to speak explicitly. In Act 2 Scene iii Ago explains his plans to “pout this pestilence into his ear and henceforth we begin to see the implications of his actions and how Othello ear is muted from hearing the words of anyone but Ago.
This can he seen in the way that towards the final moments of the play in Act 5 Scene ii we see Othello tragically ostracizes from his former self and instead echoing Ago. The once beautiful ‘Othello music” en in his earlier dialogue has been completely detuned like Ago said he would do in Act 2 Scene i, when he expressed his plans to “set down the pegs that make this music” and what remains of Othello dialogue has complete resonance of the words of Ago seen by his use of sensationalists metaphors such as when he exclaims “Roast me in sulfur! Wash me in steep-down gulfs of liquid fire! ” which echoes the words of Sagas soliloquy in Act 3 Scene iii when he mentions ‘With a little act upon the blood, burn like the mines of sulfur. It could be said that some of Sago’s qualities are seen by the audience to be deeming, for example the sheer intricacy of his plot which is fulfilled because at the end of the play he does indeed “enmesh them In Act 2 scene iii we see the true extent of lag??s abilities and his acute eye for his victim’s weaknesses which he ruthlessly exploits up until the death Of his victims. This can be seen by the way he distinguishes the fact that Othello “soul is so unfettered to her love” and how he is irrevocably in love With Desman and thus he realizes that the slightest insinuation of someone who threatens to damage their relationship will create a self-consuming jealousy. Additionally in Sago’s soliloquy we see the way in which Ago recognizes the virtues of others but instead he perceives them to be faults.
This can be seen by the way in which Ago plots to turn Adhesion’s “virtue into pitch”, which links to the constant referral to the motif of color throughout the play and the idea that Ago tarnishes every character who he communicates with, Therefore one could say that Sago’s magnificent villainy which is presented by Shakespeare in the way that Ago appears to have a total deficiency of anything that can be considered to be “good”, could be said to be deeming because, as critic Haziest states, Ago is the true “aesthete of evil” and thus the audience admires him. In conclusion it is rather evident that in “Othello” Shakespeare presents more of a Machiavellian villain rather than that of a tragic villain, This seen by the way in which Ago appears to be propelled by frustration and loathing of the people that have wounded him personally and professionally over the years and plots against them in order to raise his professional status and gain power, which of course is the sole purpose of Machiavellian politics.
This therefore conflicts faith he Coleridge assessment of Ago which depicts him as having “motiveless malignity” as it is clear that he has motives. However for many the Sago’s redeeming feature is his superb application of stagecraft and use of asides makes the audience just as much a part Of the plotting as Ago and therefore we learn to appreciate the genius of his plan. Thus many could say the way in which his plan succeeds by the end Of the play redeems him because he brings upon the downfall of Othello like he intended, yet he is still a tragic character because he is unmasked as the villain by his very own wife during the final moments of “Othello”.