In most Shakespearean plays, there is always a clear hero and villain. In the case of Othello, most people believe that Iago is the villain and Othello is the hero. The text however depicts a different story. Through Iago's manipulation, the true identity of the "hero" Othello is revealed.
From the beginning of the play,(Act 1 to the beginning to the Act 3) Othello is portrayed as a smart and honorable man. At first his love for Desdemona seems pure. For example during Act 1, Scene 2, he says, "But I love thee gentle Desdemona, I would not unhoused free condition." Then Iago starts to plant seeds of doubt. "O, beware, my lord of jealousy; It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock, The meat it feeds on; (Act 3, Scene 3). Suddenly the shift in Othello's character is instantaneous. He becomes this cruel and vindictive man. He went from loving and cherishing Desdemona to berating her, slapping her, and even goes as far as to cast aspersions on her womanhood. All because Iago said things that did not sit well with him. Like in Act 1, Scene 3 when Iago says, "She did deceive her father, marrying you, And when she seemed to shake and fear your looks she loved them the most." Othello can't be that much of a hero if his love for Desdemona can be swept away by a few words.
Although the biggest atrocity committed by Othello towards the end. After killing Desdemona over false evidence(the handkerchief) and pre-meditated lies, Othello has the nerve, not only to kill himself (instead of answering for his crimes) he asks that the people paint him as a hero. In comparison to Iago, Othello's arrogance is an underlying principle, like how at the end he says,"Why anything. An honorable murderer, if you will, For naught I did in hate, but all in honor.(Act 5, Scene 2).
It is only through Iago's subtle acts of betrayal do we see Othello's true identity. In the tragedy of Othello it is clear that Iago is the villain however Othello is not the hero.