In the Elizabethan times, there was a common belief that all beings belonged to a structure called the "Great Chain of Beings". At the top of the chain was God, who was the absolute symbol of perfection, followed by angels which had reason, human beings, and then animals, that were full of passion. It was believed that the human being was a mixture of both the angel and the animal, thus there was conflict between these two halves of a human being. The angel was representative of all that was right and virtuous and in contrast, the animal was representative of all that was wrong and self-serving. When Iago made the comment that, "Hell and night must bring this monstrous birth to the world?s light," (I, i, 394-395) his calling upon the forces of darkness to achieve his goal illustrates the imbalance in the conflict that rages in his soul. Iago is an individual who?s perspective of the world is dominated by his animal nature. Due to his own lack of virtue, Iago does not believe that any virtue exists at all. In his actions, he seeks to bring all around him to the same level of existence. The motive for the evil he commits is none other than to commit evil. Thus beyond all of the reason and thought that he cloaks himself in, Iago is really a character that is truly dark at his core.
Iago is a character who believes that there is no such thing as virtue in any individual that he meets. His animalistic perspective of individuals lets him believe that everyone around him has the same self-serving attitude towards life as his own.
"When the blood is made dull with the act of sport, there should be game to inflame it and to give satiety a fresh appetite,"(II, i, 225-227). Iago?s animalistic nature believes that Desdemona will eventually cheat on Othello when she is satisfied with her body, for he believes that the only purpose of sex is to satisfy an individuals sexual craving. He does not believe in the virtue of love, so he can not understand that there was more to the relationship between Othello and Desdemona. Thus his lack of virtue limits his ability to see the intentions of the people who are around him. To him, the world around him is one that is governed by the basic rule of evolution, only the strong may survive. As far as he is concerned, there is no dignity in human beings; thus he sees them all as animals. Consequently, Iago?s inability to see the virtue that exists in individuals illustrates the dominance of the animalistic nature in his soul.
In the playwright, Iago attempts to bring down all of the people around him to the same level of existence as himself, the animal. "O, beware, my lord, of jealousy! It is the green eyed monster," (III, iii, 165-166) In that scene, Iago carefully baits the beast that exists within Othello to show itself. It is only until he is convinced that he has put Othello in to a jealous rage that he decides leave Othello in his thoughts. He is not satisfied until he has reduced those who are around him by bringing out their animal instincts. This is due to the fact that Iago is an individual who would rather be the king of hell than an angel in heaven. Yet, he is not blind to the fact of the ugliness that exists with in his soul, so he wraps himself in a cloak of logic and reason to prevent those around him from seeing this part of his character. He sees the nobility and self-control that Othello exhibits, the purity and innocence of Desdemona, and the loyalty and self-sacrifice of Cassio. If he compared himself to these individuals, he would be forced to see what was wrong with him. To avoid confronting this image of rot in his soul, Iago seeks to reduce Desdemona to a whore, Othello to an animal, and Cassio into a drunkard. He seeks to bring individuals down to his level of existence to prove to himself that they are no better. Thus the dominance of the animal nature in Iago is illustrated through his attempt to bring down those who appear better in their character.
The inability of Iago to justify the actions that he