On Othello I: On the Character of Rodrigo.
The mystery of Iago's darkness is compounded by his headless and heartless nature. As the gnostics have an absent and uncaring god, so Shakespeare has an absent human nature in Iago.
Iago says he would rather be a baboon (without reason) than drown for love like Rodrigo wants to. The heart for him is a blank space that erotic will pierces and destroys ("A lust of the blood and a permission of the will").
His seduction of Rodrigo is frightening like few horror stories. Iago makes sure that Rodrigo might make money and forget his own soul - lose the good of the human, in Dante's terms. For this one speech in Act One of Iago to Rodrigo has embedded in it a truly fiendish hypnotic double bind:
- the soul is trash.
- money will win you your soul back
- I will win your soul back for you with money.
These are the terms of the devil's bargain embedded in Rodrigo getting Iago to win Desdemona for him. But here is the double bind:
- I (Iago) am evil, therefore giving me money to win your soul is ill spent, therefore your soul is evil too.
With a single speech of less than a single page, Iago damns Rodrigo's soul.