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Commentary on Iago's behaviour in Scene Three, Act Two

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Othello ACT TWO, SCENE THREE In this passage, the final parts of Iago's plot seem to come together, revealing to the audience both his easy manipulation of human nature and his innate understanding of the motivations of those around him. In the first four lines, he takes on a pose of honesty and innocence: professing that his advice is honest, open and, above all, an entirely reasonable course of action for Cassio to take. These lines demonstrate the necessary importance that Iago places on appearing innocent - he takes care to cover his tracks in order that he might continue his reputation of being 'honest Iago'. There is, however, a great deal of sarcasm between these lines: the audience knows how little appreciation he has for Cassio and hence that any 'free [...] honest' advice ultimately will serve as a double edged sword. Iago's perception of Desdemona also emerge in the following lines: he understands that she is chiefly an honest individual. ...read more.


not to mention his name, simply calling him 'the Moor'. This indicates once again his hatred for Othello and deeply ingrained racism. While it should be noted that most Venetians of the period have some feeling of racism towards Othello, it is manifested mostly in a desire that Othello not breed with a Venetian: for Iago, it becomes rather a desire that Othello not live at all, let alone be treated as a fellow man worthy of a Christian name. Christianity comes into this soliloquy also as Iago mentions Othello's conversion and 'redeemed sin' - this taken up in effort to carve out a niche for himself in Venetian society, Iago believes that it would nonetheless be forgotten on indication of one of Desdemona's whims. Iago's intrinsic misogyny states that Othello's devotion to Desdemona - merely a woman! - is yet another trait making him ripe for hatred and insurrection. This is particularly clear in the lines '...her appetite shall play the god/With his weak function.' ...read more.


and furthers our impression of him as a highly considered individual who rarely speaks before he thinks. Iago tells the audience that, while Desdemona pleads Cassio's innocence, he will advise the Moor that it is due to 'her body's lust' for him. Her attempts will then appear to have additional meaning, driving her and Othello further apart. Iago states that he will 'turn her virtue into pitch', making her good deed one rooted in lust and infidelity. It is important also that he uses the word pitch - sticky and black, it furthers our understanding of Iago's racism as it paints a picture of virtue as light and vice as black. Out of Desdemona's 'goodness' and the simple virtue of these characters, Iago is able to 'enmesh' them in a web of deception and ultimately drive them to their downfall. These lines serve to strengthen our understanding of Iago as a perceptive and manipulative individual and simply reinforce our earlier impressions. It is important that these characteristics be heavily portrayed: while repetitive, it is only in this manner that the audience is able to understand the sheer immensity of Iago's evilness. ...read more.

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