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Examine the Presentation of Iago in Acts One and Two

By mizzchik92 Dec 11, 2010 777 Words
Examine the presentation of Iago in acts one and two.

Shakespeare has created the character of Iago as the villain of the play. He drives the plot as he schemes and manipulated other characters. He fascinates and terrifies the audience with his revengeful plotting which he has no real motivation for.

In Iago’s first big speech he is already moaning about not being promoted giving of a negative feel to his character and declaring his hatred for Othello. Within his first ten lines of the play he tells the audience that this man who did not promote him loves his own pride and purposes. This highlights Iago’s unnecessary jealousy and resentment. After insulting this man he then moves onto Cassio, the man who was promoted instead of him. His bitterness is shown when he calls him a great arithmetician, and A fellow almost damned in a fair wife. So far Iago has not said a nice word about anyone but scornfully describes him as having no experience. In the first act his character is used to build suspense for the introduction to these two characters as from his descriptions the audience have already formed an opinion of them both. Iago’s big speeches are written in pros rather than verse because of his plotting. He explains to Roderigo, I follow him to serve my turn upon him which shows him to be very without good reason. We can also see from the first scene, Iago’s ability to manipulate others. For example he tells Roderigo to Rouse him, make after him, poison his delight. Roderigo follows Iago’s orders. Iago uses very crude and outrageous language showing his insensitivity for example you’ll have your daughter/ covered with a Barbary horse; you’ll have your nephews/ neigh to you; you’ll have coursers for cousins, and jennets/ for germans. Iago does not pretend to be pitiful or unhappy to tell Brabantio of such a horrible thing and he makes it sound as nasty as possible because he wants revenge. He also called a woman a Guinea-Hen implying a woman is just an animal and not worthy of human love. He is even rude to his own wife in Act 2 describing her as saints in your injuries and housewives in your beds. He does this while Desdemona is there and has no remorse when he realises Emilia is not happy about the way he is talking. It is apparent from the end of Act 1 that Iago has no nice feelings for anyone but himself. He uses Roderigo to do his work, mocks him for his thoughts of suicide over a woman and then calls him a snipe, while all along Roderigo follows Iago’s word like Iago has some power over him.

In Act 2 Iago sees that Cassio is being very courtly and threatens to use it against him. I will/ gyve thee in thine own courtship. Iago is always plotting behind other things that are happening and always thinking of things that may help his plan. From the way Cassio and Othello talk about Iago we can see he is very cunning in making them think he is their friend. He hides his true intentions very well. Othello calls him most honest, which also has dramatic irony because we really know what Iago is up to. This shows the qualities of the worst villain, he is clever and sly but the other characters still hold him in high regards. Just before the fight starts Iago starts to manipulate and influence Montano’s views of Cassio as he says He’ll watch the horologe a double set,/ if drink rock not his cradle. After Othello finds out there has been a fight Iago uses his words very carefully to put Cassio in the frame. By saying I had rather had this tongue cut from my mouth/ Than it should do offence to Michael Cassio he puts Cassio in the frame but also seems like he is protecting him. This is clever as it means Othello will fire Cassio but will also favour Iago for being truthful and loyal. He latter says to Iago Thy honesty and love doth mince this matter.

So we can see from the first two acts that Iago manipulates the characters like a does the events to progress his plan. His plots are clever in that he is very organised and chooses his timing and his words. He speaks in pro’s to emphasise his evil plotting and he keeps his thoughts and plan well concealed from others so the characters views of him never change.

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