Othello - English Exam

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Discuss the way Shakespeare develops the character of Iago in Act 1 Scene 3 and Act 3 Scene 3. What dramatic impact do the soliloquies have on the play?

Othello is a tragedy written by Shakespeare in 1602. The main character, Othello is a popular general in the town of Venice. He falls for the young Desdemona and all goes well for a while, until Othello promotes Cassio instead of Iago. This causes Iago to become jealous and he plots a malicious plan to make Othello unhappy. He manipulates different people into getting them to do what they want; Emilia who is Iago’s wife steals a handkerchief for him. The handkerchief plays an important part in the play as Othello gave it to Desdemona as a token of his love. Desdemona treasures the handkerchief but mistakenly leaves it behind one day; this is when Emilia steals it. Once Iago has the handkerchief his entire plan falls into place. He puts the idea that Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio in Othello’s head, and then places the handkerchief on Cassio. At first Othello is so in love with Desdemona that he thinks nothing of it, but once he sees that Cassio had the token of love he gave to her, he thinks differently... After being left heartbroken, he confronts Desdemona and eventually suffocates her to death. The innocent Emilia comes in to find her mistress murdered, she then reveals the truth that Iago was behind all the lies which is when Iago comes in and kills her. Othello then kills himself out of guilt.

A soliloquy is like a monologue as it is a paragraph spoken on stage alone; however it is just a short speech. A Soliloquy is about what a character is doing or thinking or it could just be about what is happening in the play at that time. In ‘Othello’ Iago is the character that says most of the soliloquies, he talks about his plans to undermine Othello and how he can predict everyone’s reactions.

Directly before Iago’s first soliloquy, Roderigo and Iago talk about going to war in Cyprus and Iago manipulates Roderigo into doing what he wants by persuading him that Desdemona will tire of Othello eventually and she will then fall in love with Roderigo. He does this because he knows that Roderigo is in love with Desdemona; however he knows that Othello and Desdemona are happily in love and would never tire of each other.

In Act 1, Scene 3, Iago’s first soliloquy is about what he plans to do, he explains that by telling Othello lies he will get exactly what he wants. This is for Othello to be unhappy. He also explains that by doing this he will get Cassio’s job therefore he will be killing two birds with one stone.

In this soliloquy he mentions a rumor,' 'twixt my sheets, /he's done my office.' by this he means that he thinks Othello has slept with Emilia but he doesn’t know if it's true or not. This is the only line in the play that suggests a reason behind Iago's plans and why he hates Othello so much. However by using the word 'office' to refer to his wife, Emilia Shakespeare gives the audience the impression he doesn’t care for her much. I also know this as he uses her later in the play to make his plans against Othello work out; he also kills her at the end of the play.

Iago then goes onto say, 'I know not if't be true/yet I, for mere suspicion in that kind, / will do as if for surety.' Iago is saying, even though he doesn’t know if it's true or not, he's going to get back at Othello anyway. Therefore he could just be using this as an excuse for his plans, as this would make the audience see him not as evil but as unhappy and wanting revenge which would make them sympathetic for him. However, as this seems like a cover for his for his evil plan, again it is clear that he doesn’t really care about Emilia.

Shakespeare gives Iago the line, 'He holds me well, the better shall my purpose work upon him.' I think that Shakespeare does this to show that because Iago thinks very highly of himself Othello will too, and never suspect that he is...
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