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Iago

By Nikki12995 Jan 31, 2013 987 Words
Iago is one of the main characters in the play Othello. His personality consists of being the personification of the moral behavior. Shakespeare goes a lot deeper than that, he gives Iago this colour that makes him more than just a stock character. Iago gains complexity throughout the play through having multiple motives, his ability to manipulate others and being generally just unsympathetic. Shakespeare shows us exactly what kind of person Iago is right from the beginning of the play. The reader/spectator begins to realize this before any of the characters in the play do. In my opinion, he did this so the reader will begin to see how evil Iago is, yet how unjustified his behaviour is. In act 1 scene 1 when Iago suggests rousing Brabantio we start to see that he delights in making trouble. Roderigo speaks to the senator politely, but it is Iago’s crude descriptions of Othello as ‘an old black ram is tupping your white ewe’ which become inappropriate. The animal imagery Iago uses when speaking of Desdemonia’s sexual union with Othello is in keeping with his earlier sneering reference to Cassio being ‘damned in a fair wife’ and his role as matchmaker for Roderigo. Shakespeare perhaps suggests that Iago is foul-mouthed and unable to understand love, or loving relationships. This idea is also developed later on in the play. In Othello Shakespeare presents Iago with having two different motives behind this hatred through his superior: Othello. The first motive Iago uses is that he was passed over for promotion and the job he believes that he deserved was given to Michael Cassio, an arithmetician. To Iago this is a complete slap in the face and would be a very logical reason for being angry with Othello if he had kept his motive consistent. Two scenes later, Iago presents another reason for his hatred to Othello since rumors have spread that Othello and Emilia (Iago’s wife) had slept together. Whether or not this is true, Iago sees this as a good enough reason to get revenge on Othello somehow. Iago’s soliloquy is hugely important in the play as it is where the audience is able to gain their first deep insight into Iago’s character and how he is a man of incredibly low morals, happy to use anyone to get what he wants with no regard to their feelings. It is in this soliloquy that Iago first begins to formulate his cunning plan. We see that he begins to think about how he can get his revenge on both Othello and Cassio at once and a rhetorical question is used to show how Iago is talking to himself when he says ‘How, how?’. Here he is considering how he can involve Cassio in his plan. Iago then progresses and decides to deceive Othello by telling him that Cassio is too familiar with Desdemona. He claims that Cassio ‘hath a person and a smooth dispose to be suspected’. This shows us that Iago thinks Cassio is handsome and has a way with women, so it would be believable that Desdemona was having an affair with him. This shows the audience another example of Iago’s jealous personality which Shakespeare portrays. Through the use of this soliloquy, Shakespeare creates a great deal of dramatic tension within the play as the audience is now aware of the awful plan which Iago intends to put into action. The audience also knows of Iago’s deceitful qualities of which the other characters know nothing about. We gain the sense that he has no regard for other people. ‘He holds me well; the better shall my purpose work on him.’ By saying this Iago is telling the audience that his plan will work well because Othello trusts him; he also shows that he has no problem abusing his trust to get what he wants.

Shakespeare portrays Iago to be incredibly trustworthy and this is what allows him to manipulate most of the other characters like puppets. Since Iago has been a, agent for quite a long time there’s no previous evidence that will allow Othello to even suspect that Iago is playing him. Furthermore, everyone else believes what Iago says because Othello trusts him. This allows Iago to easily switch from one side to the other depending on who he is speaking to without a chance of somebody else second guessing what he says. Also, Iago’s ability to manipulate Othello comes from the fact that being Othello’s agent, Iago knows exactly how Othello’s mind works and knows intimately Othello’s weaknesses, emotionally and sociologically. At the start of act 2 scene 3 the audience see that Iago attempts to force Cassio into improper thoughts towards Desdemona. He is tempting Cassio into saying something he shouldn’t or something he may sooner regret. The key part of this however, is that Iago is tempting Cassio, very like the devil himself tries to tempt us. Iago tempts Cassio in this way but he remains very proper and remarks only that ‘She’s a most of exquisite lady’. Iago’s initial remarks are soon followed by 'And I’ll warrant her full of game’, an inappropriate statement in reference to his captain’s wife designed to manipulate Cassio into making sexual comments about Desdemona. In act 3 scene 3 Iago says to Othello: "O beware my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-ey'd monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on". He is deliberately putting the idea in Othello's mind that he has something to be jealous of. He has maneuvered a fight between Cassio and Rodrigo which will result in Cassio's immediate dismissal by Othello. Iago then arranges for Desdemona to plead Cassio's case and all the time he is hinting that Othello has a reason to be jealous of Cassio and Desdemona. This shows us that Iago plans carefully what he is going to do and usually succeeds in doing so.

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