Character of Iago

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Shakespeare employs a variety of language, dramatic and theatrical techniques in shaping my understanding of the rather enigmatic yet definitely Machiavellian, character of Iago. Shakespeare reveals him to be a cunning and conniving exploiter and manipulator of other characters who become caught in his web of lies, deceit and evil schemes. Iago is forever the cold, calculating pragmatist who is cynical about anything associated with goodness, such as love, virtue, reputation and honour.

Iago constantly plays the role of ‘honest Iago’, which is shown by Shakespeare’s constant dramatically ironic use of this phrase over twenty-three times. All characters have no hesitation in trusting every word Iago says, and taking everything he tells them to be true. The duplicitous nature of Iago is shown in conjunction with the symbolism of the Roman God, “By Janus”. Janus is a two faced God, who perfectly represents the nature of Iago, the two sides, one he only displays to the public and Roderigo and one only displayed to everyone else. This nature is further emphasised by Iago through his dialogue, “I am not what I am”. Similar to this includes the dialogue, “I serve him to serve my turn upon him”.

The honesty that the other characters believe Iago has, allows him to adapt the personality of cunning, conniving manipulator of people, allowing him to exploit their emotions for his personal uses. He achieves his aims under the pretence of acting to help individuals but really he is egotistical and serves only for himself. He plays on Othello’s “free and open” nature, on his mission to prove Desdemona’s infidelity and create the metaphor of the “green-eyed monster”, which both Othello and Iago will nurture. Iago’s also gives Cassio “free and honest” advice about asking Desdemona for his position back after his fall from grace, showing again the dramatic irony Shakespeare portrays. Iago also continues to assure Desdemona that Othello’s sudden change in mood has nothing to...
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