Aspects of Iago Are Revealed Through Act One and Act Two

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  • Topic: Iago, Othello, William Shakespeare
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What aspects of Iago’s character are revealed through his soliloquies in Act One and Two?

The purpose of soliloquies in Shakespeare’s plays is to express the genuine feelings or beliefs of the characters speaking them. His play Othello is no exception and the soliloquy is most significantly used by the character Iago. The nature of Iago’s role in the play means that we can only be sure that his words are a true expression of his feelings when he is talking in soliloquy. Despite being widely known as ‘honest Iago’, this man is a sophisticated villain who thrives on deception. His skills of improvisation are so developed that every word he speaks to another person is a calculated drive for self-advancement. As such, his true character is only fully revealed when he is alone on stage. We hear his first soliloquy at the end of act 1 scene 3. Having persuaded Roderigo to accompany him to Cyprus, Roderigo leaves much cheered. Iago remains, alone and delivers his soliloquy. Up until now in the play Iago’s motivation has not been wholly clear. This short soliloquy goes someway to untangling the web that is Iago’s mind. *analysis of language devices*

The soliloquy as a whole is testament to his ability to improvise swiftly. At the start of his soliloquy he has not yet decided how he is going to proceed with his revenge. A few lines later he has the outline of a workable and subtle plan.
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