English A HL – Othello Commentary
At the end of Act 1, Iago has a short soliloquy where he reveals some of the depths of evil that is in his personality. This is effective characterization because the audience is exposed to his inner thoughts and what he wants. Shakespeare uses various techniques including rhythm, rhyme and bestial imagery in his writing to effectively get the message across to the audience. These techniques help emphasize or highlight certain lines that are significant in the play and in understanding the characters.
One example of a technique is the use of caesura to help the audience understand Iago’s character and his inner emotions. In the first line caesura is used to echo the content. “Thus do I ever make my fool my purse” (I (iii) 368). The caesura emphasizes the word ‘purse’. This shows the audience how Iago values money and how possessive he is; ‘my purse’. Another line that is very much emphasized is; “I hate the Moor” (I (iii) 371). Before this line there is a fast pace, the run on lines give an impression of speed, and the caesura right before this line slows everything down and highlights the four words, showing the sincerity of the sentence and exposing Iago’s true feelings. Also, looking at the rhythm we can see that the two words ‘hate’ and ‘Moor’ are stressed in the sentence accentuating the significance of those specific words.
Shakespeare also subtly uses techniques like bestial imagery in his descriptions to degrade other characters and show how Iago thinks of them. For example, when he talks about Roderigo in the first four lines of the soliloquy he describes him as a snipe. He lowers Roderigo to the level of an animal and refers to him as a fool. Bestial imagery is also used when Iago describes Othello’s character. “The Moor is of a free and open nature
That thinks men honest that but seem to be so;
And will as tenderly be led by th’ nose
As asses are.” (I (iii) 384-7)
He talks about...
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