Iago treats his wife Emilia in a very derogatory way: “It is a common thing…To have a foolish wife” (Act 3 Scene 3, Lines 306–308). Also, referring to Othello, Iago says that not all men are fit to lead and not all leaders should be followed. Iago in this play, has the qualities of the Devil in medieval and Renaissance morality plays: He is a liar, he makes promises he has no intention of keeping, he tells fancy stories in order to trap people and lead them to their destruction, and he sees other's greatest vulnerabilities and uses these to destroy them. He points out to Roderigo that men cannot follow leaders if they want to lead themselves. From Leonardo to Shakespeare there is certainly one thing that they all possess and that is their eloquent ‘genius’. He is jealous of Cassio for obtaining the position of Lieutenant over him, jealous of Othello–believing that he has bedded his wife–and jealous of Othello’s position, despite his race. He's hired Iago to be his wingman, but Iago basically uses him as a walking ATM.. Iago takes the jewelry Roderigo thinks he's giving to Desdemona and sells it for a profit. Lee Jamieson, M.A., is a theater scholar and educator. If this is the life that the performer comes up with to explain her scenes, I think it works. Are you sure you want to remove #bookConfirmation# ", The great nineteenth-century actor Booth wrote about playing Iago: "To portray Iago properly you must seem to be what all the characters think, and say, you are, not what the spectators know you to be; try to win even them by your sincerity. ... Cassio is another character in which it is hard to decide whether he is really honorable or if it is just his reputation. He is quite or nearly indifferent to his own fate as to that of others; he runs all risks for a trifling and doubtful advantage, and is himself the dupe and victim of ruling passion — an insatiable craving after action of the most difficult and dangerous kind. And he hasn't spoken. Iago is one of Shakespeare's most complex villains. Roderigo is a rich, unintelligent guy who thinks that if he sends Desdemona enough expensive presents, she'll fall in love with him. Iago is unrepentant in his communication with the audience. This could be due to his belief that she has had an affair, but his character is so consistently unpleasant that the audience does not assign his malignancy to her behavior. Another example of the degree of deception was when Iago said to Othello, “She did deceive her father, marrying you” (111.3.205). Racial and female stereotypes also dominate. Tweet; Recently Viewed. ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience and for our, 3 Prominent Themes Found in William Shakespeare's 'Othello', Character Analysis of Shakespeare's Othello, M.A., Theater Studies, Warwick University, B.A., Drama and English, DeMontfort University. This statement is one of the few moments of honesty between Iago and another character. and any corresponding bookmarks? Say, hypothetically, that we staged an Othello were it was perfectly obvious that Othello had indeed slept with Iago’s wife. Each thing Iago says is cause for worry. What would such an interpretation do to Iago’s character? But he, sir, had th' election ... (1.1.20-27) Another motive, and possibly a stronger motive … ... (1.1.67-68). . William Shakespeare is known for his profound characters. Initially you get the impression that the character of Iago is one of pure evil. God replies: "I am that I am" (Exodus,iii,14). He has the ability to charm and convince people of his loyalty and honesty–“Honest Iago,” according to Othello–but the audience is immediately introduced to his vitriol and desire for revenge, despite his lack of proved reason. The people here with me, they... they care about me, and they shouldn’t. ‘Without practise is all his soldiership’ says Iago about Cassio, because he is cross that Cassio has been chosen as Othello’s officer instead of him. ... there … Iago has very few redeeming qualities. Language and character; Language and structure; Othello: Characterisation. Trusting of Iago, he nonetheless questions Iago repetitively on his loyalty to him in Act I, and later on what has happened to gifts given to him to pass on to Desdemona in Act V. ... and unwittingly reveals the source … Iago then goes on to advise Cassio that he can get his job back by asking Desdemona to speak to Othello, and Cassio thanks him for the advice, whereupon Iago says, "I protest [promise you], in the sincerity of love and honest kindness" (2.3.327). An audience may even collude in Emilia’s belief that even if she did cheat, Iago deserved it. His fate is left in Cassio’s hands. Iago didn’t wait for a reply. Use evidence from the text. He likes to have others unwittingly working to serve his purposes. ... Another method used by Iago is the suggestion of an event, or feeling, and then the denial. Iago”s deception, which in appearance looks similar to Desdemona”s deception, is in fact very different. Iago says (I.1, 65) "I am not what I am," which can be interpreted as "I am not what I seem." when everyone knows something that the main character does not-Iago plans to convince Othello that he is not keeping track of his wife and that another character is too familiar with her.-there is no one else in the room at this time so only the audience and him know about his plan (dramatic irony) -we know that desdemona is innocent but Othello does not, when he is planning on killing her -Desdemona’s … Unlike the other ​characters, whose personalities are transformed by the action–most notably Othello, who goes from being a strong soldier to an insecure, jealous murderer–the unrepentant and cruel Iago is unchanged. “Well, I’m not afraid anymore, Jafar. Oftentimes the culprit is ambition, as in Macbeth, or revenge, as in Hamlet. Iago refers to Othello not by his name but as 'the Moor', calling him 'the devil' (2.1.216) and 'defective' (2.1.220), a racist portrayal which makes Desdemona's unfaithfulness more believable to Roderigo. Another example of the degree of deception was when Iago said to Othello, “She did deceive her father, marrying you” (111.3.205). The other one says that iago was the one involved in all this roderigo also says how iago told him to pick a fight with Cassio He uses Roderigo to perform his dirty work, and without him would have been unable to discredit Cassio in the first place. character flaws in othello essaysThe play of Othello is like you are pushing a huge boulder up a steep mountain, and then it finally reaches the top, and it goes down the other side, and nothing can stop it. Irony … Though deeply unpleasant, Iago must have considerable intellect to devise and deploy his plans, and to convince the other characters of his various deceptions along the way. Most shockingly, perhaps, he kills Roderigo, a character with whom he has conspired and been mostly honest throughout the play. Iago tells Othello that he did not ... Maybe the fear of one another was a little less, for deep inside themselves, they all knew that had nothing to be afraid of in the ones they cared about. Iago does all this not for any good reason, but for love of evil. Roderigo. In doing so, he comes across as even more villainous, now that he is prepared to ruin Othello’s life despite his acknowledged goodness. - When a character says something that is clearly the opposite of the truth ... irony can be used by the characters intentionally - Example: Iago says he is "honest as I am" 18 Euphemism - Saying one thing but clearly meaning another - Usually used sexually - "your daughter and the Moor are making the beast with two backs" is a euphemism for having sex 19 ... Iago says "I am not what I am" and "In following him, I … The thing about Iago is this—we never really know for certain why it is that Iago wants to destroy Othello. How Nick describes him in chapter’s Actions character makes: opening: Connection to Nick: Description of his house: A symbol … Cassio is handsome, charming, and charismatic; as Iago notes when he starts to hatch his devious plan, “He hath a person and a smooth dispose / To be suspected, framed to make women false” (1.3. Iago has a reputation for honesty, for reliability and direct speaking. He has risen through the ranks in the army by merit and achievement, and Othello, whose military judgment is excellent, has taken him as ancient (captain) because of his qualities. Necessity forces his hand, and, in order to destroy Othello, he must also destroy Roderigo, Emilia, Desdemona, and ultimately himself. Iago is enlisting Roderig… of diseased intellectual activity, with the most perfect indifference to moral good or evil, or rather with a decided preference of the latter, because it falls more readily in with his favorite propensity, gives greater zest to his thoughts and scope to his actions. Brabantio also speaks disparagingly of Othello's "sooty bosom." ). The most obvious is that he has just been passed over for a promotion which has gone to Cassio. 'fleecy clouds'. In Act II, Othello says "Iago is most honest" (2.3, p. 41, line 7). ... and enthusiastically takes on the task of reconciling Cassio to her husband. Shakespeare's Characters: Iago (Othello) ... Iago's motive for wanting to destroy Othello could be one of several. Iago portrays Desdemona as lustful, desperate to trade Othello for a more refined Cassio. Roderigo says that Othello only got Desdemona out of luck and he will not be able to carry it off. He has the ability to charm and convince people of his loyalty and honesty–“Honest Iago,” according to Othello–but the audience is immediately introduced to his vitriol and desire for revenge, despite his lack of proved reason. “But I do think it is their husband’s faults If wives do fall” (Act 5 Scene 1, Lines 85–86). ... white is black and generally the characters and themes have contradictory aspects. Most other Shakespearean characters do bad things in order to achieve a particular goal. If "I am that I am" stands for God, then Iago's self-description, "I am not what I am" is the direct opposite. Even when she pleases, him he calls her “A good wench” (Act 3 Scene 3, Line 319). ... for it was one thing to befriend a ‘moor’ and another to marry them.Although in Act One Othello demonstrates he is not as Iago, Roderigo and Brabantio describe him, would the … Jafar gasped at his defiance, but found nothing to say in defense. His is the longest part with 1,070 lines. Shakespeare has built the character of Iago from an idea already existing in the theatrical culture of his time: the Devil in religious morality plays, which developed into the villain in Elizabethan drama and tragedy. One of the chief things that makes the works of William Shakespeare timeless is his genius for characterization. Don't act the villain, don't look it, or speak it, (by scowling and growling, I mean), but think it all the time. Cassio’s thoughts, feelings, and motivations are rarely revealed, but his character and behavior are significant for creating the conditions under which Iago can enact his plan. Perhaps having guessed that he may be double-crossed, he writes letters which he keeps on his person that eventually discredit Iago and his motives completely. Possibly Iago was always a villain and confidence trickster who set up a false reputation for honesty, but how can one set up a reputation for honesty except by being consistently honest over a long period of time? He cares for no one, yet he devotes his whole life to revenge rather than walk away in disdain. CliffsNotes study guides are written by real teachers and professors, so no matter what you're studying, CliffsNotes can ease your homework headaches and help you score high on exams. Throughout the play, Iago provides multiple and incompatible motives for hating Othello. Character Analysis The play Othello begins with an argument between two men, Iago and Roderigo. But it is also reminiscent of a quotation from the Bible which Shakespeare would have known: In Exodus, God gives his laws to Moses on Mt. As Iago craftily fools Othello and Roderigo, the readers know that what Iago is saying is not completely true. Iago represents evil and cruelty for its own sake. Iago’s character is consumed with hatred and envy. Unfortunately, Iago takes advantage of Desdemona’s good … However, Roderigo seems to know Iago best. William Hazlitt wrote: "Iago is an extreme instance . He is deeply unpleasant, and this is revealed to the audience in no uncertain terms in his numerous asides. He even acts as an advocate for Othello’s , telling the audience that he is noble: “The Moor–howbe’t that I endure him not–Is of a constant, loving noble nature, and I dare think that he’ll prove to Desdemona a most dear husband” (Act 2 scene 1, Lines 287–290). Over the course of the play, both are lured into the complex love plot engineered by Iago, one of Shakespeare's best-written villains. Desdemona says this line to Emilia and Iago as she explains how she will remain faithful and loving to Othello even if he insists on accusing her of infidelity. Iago is the opposite of God, that is, he is the Devil. Iago is unpunished at the end of the play. Shakespeare’s numerous characters are not only amazingly varied but also insightfully well-rounded, making them believable and memorable. He treats others as fools and has no time for tender emotion, yet he is a married man and presumably once loved his wife. It also is the first seed planted in his game of deception. Iago does what he needs to do to accomplish his goals. But Iago says it, and it has to be dealt with one way or another. Two of the key characters are Cassio, Othello's loyal captain, and Roderigo, a man who is love with Othello's wife, Desdemona. I will say nothing. This ability of Iago’s is key to his success in suggesting support and concern for Cassio whilst also destroying his character as it allows for him to keep up an appearance of ‘honest Iago’ to Cassio and all the other characters whilst slowly poisoning their thoughts, creating ideas in their heads without implicating himself - ‘And what's he then that says I play the villain, when this advice is free I give, and … This transformation … Quick in motion as in thought; lithe and sinuous as a snake.". … Othello and Iago, the two main characters in Shakespeare's 'Othello,' are one of the most dynamic pairs in all of literature. All rights reserved. Texts He believes in cheating and lying for gain, yet Shakespeare placed some of the most beautiful words in Iago's mouth. In addition, Cassio says of Roderigo, "even but now he spake, / After long seeming dead, Iago hurt him, / Iago set him on" (5.2.327-329). 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