There seems to be a growing trend in this course and in the texts we’ve been reading (at least as of late): evil masterminds. Richard III and Iago both are genius in their plots to achieve power and revenge, respectively. Richard III from the very beginning of the play expresses how he desires the throne and will do anything to achieve it but he then tells us his step-by-step plan and then he executes it nearly without fail. First, he makes it so that Clarence, his own brother, be sent away to the prison (though Clarence doesn’t know it was Richard who has done so). He sees Clarence being taken away to the prison and promises his brother that he’ll do everything in his power to free him. Once Clarence is off stage, Richard gleefully exclaims, “Go tread the path that thou shalt ne’er return. Simple plain Clarence, I do love thee so that I will shortly send thy soul to heaven, If heaven will take the present at our hands.” He outright celebrates his brother’s downfall. His next plan of action is to marry Lady Anne, despite being the one responsible for her father-in-law Henry IV’s death as well as her husband, the former king’s son by the house of York. Lady Anne genuinely hates the house of York and it seems impossible for Richard III to woo her. However, being the cunning mastermind he is, he is able to do so with his romantic words and even gives her the option to kill him to prove himself in a way to her. However, he knows in his heart that she doesn’t have to gall to actually kill him and of course, she drops the sword and yields herself to him. And then after she leaves, he once again gloats of just how brilliant he is. Gah! You have to admire him. I know I do. How a person with merely his cunning can get what he wants is astonishing.
His way with words and cunning is on par with that of Iago. Iago worked his magic on the people around him differently than Richard III. Iago did his evil planning as it came to him. He had the intention of getting back at Othello for whatever it was that Othello did to him (besides Cassio getting a promotion over Iago, it was never fully clear just why Iago hates Othello as much as he does). While Richard III has a calculated step-by-step plan to get what he wants and to destroy everyone around him, Iago improvised as he went along and seized the opportunities that came into his lap. However, with everything that happened with the handkerchief, he still had to be the one whispering in everyone’s ears planting seeds of doubt in all. He’s the one whispering in Othello’s ear Desdemona’s flirtation with Cassio, he’s the one telling Desdemona to try to win Cassio’s favor in Othello, etc.
Honestly, as evil as Richard III and Iago are, I’m sort of envious of their master of wit and evil genius. Doesn’t everyone want to be the evil villain at some point in their life? … No? That’s just me? Well I have a deep respect for people who – though are evil in their intent – pull through and are victorious in their goals. To be so calculated and cunning are traits to be admired and are the reasons why I’m naturally rooting for the ‘bad guys’ in different forms of literature and entertainment.