Of all the characters in Shakespeare's Othello, none is more complex and of great depth and dimension than "honest" Iago. A person of vengeance and dishonesty inspired by jealousy, yet portrayed by every character as honest and trustworthy. To help coax this image of honesty he outwardly addresses it, by stating, "I am an honest man." (II. iii. 245). By gaining the trust of his comrades, he schemes to snake his way into the lives of others and exploit them through their weaknesses. The manipulative nature of Iago has profound effects on decisions made by other characters throughout Othello. Through carefully thought out words and actions Iago manipulates others to his benefit. What marks his consummate villainy is the willingness to be absolutely evil-to have no qualms about being diabolical and no strains of human morality tugging at his conscience. Operating on a self-styled level of morality, he never doubts his actions, however diabolical they may seem to the audience. Experiencing not even an iota of empathy or guilt Iago becomes the perfect villain, for it is the feeling for another that leads one to experience guilt and Iago feels for no one. Manipulation of others is not questioned by Iago to be right or wrong. To Iago love is merely "a lust of the blood and a permission of the will" and self-love, the mother of all vices, is the only love that Iago respects. Without the understanding or ability to love, Iago lacks a conscience and it is thus that he is able to cruelly continue to manipulate and the perfect villain is defined.
A malignant cancer infecting all those around him, Iago is a character of high intellectual capacity, quick to realize the advantages of trust and how they will serve as a tool to forward his purpose. Trust a very powerful emotion is easily abused, Iago filling the role as a master of abuse manipulates people's trust in him to obtain his own goals. By penetrating their deepest fears and concerns, he then uses them to "make the net that shall enmesh them all" into a jealous web of hatred (II.