An indepth look at “Othello”
Act 2. sc. 1. Lines 308-314
That Cassio Loves Her, I do well believe’t.
That she loves hom, ‘tis apt and of great credit.
The Moor, howbeit that I endure him not,
Is of constant, loving, noble nature,
And I dare think he’ll prove to Desdemona
A most dear husband. Now, I do love her too,
Not out of absolute lust (though preadventure
I stand accountant for as great a sin)
But partly led to diet my revenge
For that i do suspect the lusty Moor
Hath leaped into my seat - the thought whereof
Doth, like a poisonous mineral, gnaw my inwards,
And nothing canvor shall content my soul
Till I am evened with him, wife for wife,
Or, failing so, yet I put the Moor
At least into jealousy so strong
That judgement cannot cure. Which thing I do,
If this poor trash of Venice, whom I trace
For his quick hunting, stand the putting on,
I’ll have Michael Cassio on the hip,
Abuse him to the Moor in the garb
(For fear I fear Cassio with my too),
Make the Moor thank me, love me, and reward me
For making him egregiously an ass
And for practicing upon his peace and quiet
Even to madness. ‘Tis here, but yet confused.
Knavery’s plain face is never seen till used.
John W. Dunphy
Shakespeare the Later Works
One of the reasons this excerpt from Shakespeare’s “Othello” stands above the rest is that within these lines, Shakespeare inadvertently, or perhaps not, draws the blueprint for the great archetypal schemers that can still be found in all forms of media and art today. The antagonists monologue declaring what they will do has even reached the point of cliche as evidenced in Disney’s The Incredibles, when Frozone jokes, “He starts monologuing! He starts like, this prepared speech about how *feeble* I am compared to him, how *inevitable* my defeat is, how *the world* *will soon* *be his*, yadda yadda yadda.” (imdb.com)
In this passage, while Iago plots this course of desctruction and scandal, he uses words very plainly and matter of factly. This clashes greatly with the usual color and imagry that Iago often uses when speaking to others, a fact that even Russ McDonald points out in his book, “The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare:” “It is Iago’s talent for language and fiction - or lies- that permits him to realized those imagined circumstances...An audience’s moral revulsion at Iago’s plot is overpowered, at least occasionally, by its admiration for his wicked creativity and his skillfull use of words.” (57)
Here, however, that use of flowery language is absent. If anything, this humanizes the character. As the play progresses, it becomes easy for the audience to think of Iago as almost omnisient, having premptivley planned everything that will happen and seeing the world progrees exactly as he had predicted. Within these lines, Iago is seen without grace or poise. His words are not intended to convince anyone of anything and so they reveal his true identity. An identity that lowers the shroud of prose and suggestion that Iago has cocooned himself within, and shows the creature that has spun the lies.
It is that very lack of poetic rhetoric that exemplifies the text. While the audience/reader has become fascinated by Iago’s verse, his simple statements such as “poor trash of Venice,” and “Make the Moor thank me, love me, and reward me for making him egregiously and ass,” (79, 81) reveal how he truly feels about the players. Simple mockeries that clash with future descriptions of Othello. Even his hatred of Othello bcomes more raw since he is speaking to no one. Earlier, when talking to Roderigo he says quite plainly, “I am not what I am,” (11) and “I have told thee often, and I retell thee again and again, I hate the Moor.” (53) However, knowing that Iago has a propensity for lies, his word can not ultimately be trusted when he has dialogue with anyone. During his...
Cited: Shakespeare, William. “Othello.” edited by Mowat, Barbara A. and Werstine, Paul. The Folger Shakespeare Library 1993.
McDonald, Russ. “The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare: Second Edition.” Bedford/St. Martins 2001.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0317705/quotes. The Internet Movie Database. Amazon.com. Last viewed Oct. 3, 2008
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