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Comment on Iago's contribution to the action and concerns of the play.

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Introduction

"Iago is not only the catalyst for the action in Othello, but also perpetually refuels the plot." How far do you agree with this suggestion? In the course of your answer: - Explain clearly how Shakespeare presents the character of Iago. - Comment on Iago's contribution to the action and concerns f the play. Coleridge's famous remark about "the motive-hunting of a motiveless malignity" does point to one aspect of Iago's nature. His need for an audience is so great that he constantly presents us with a choice of motives. But this is misleading in the suggestion that Iago has not motives whatsoever. It is rather that his motives differ from what he makes them out to be, or sometimes are hidden; 'but I will wear my heart upon my sleeve for daws to pick at - I am not what I am. Salgado suggests, "A deep-rooted contempt for fellow human beings, based on the insecurity of a self-made man, is a constant element in his make-up." While his strong desire to possess and gain should not be over looked. His carefully built up image as 'honest Iago' with "no time for intellectual sophistication" is a result of intelligence and skill on a psychological level combined with perfect planning, which will be explored later. ...read more.

Middle

He wants us to understand that he associates with a dolt like Roderigo for his own particular purposes, namely to manipulate him for his plans. He also declares 'I hate the moor 'before he gives us any reason for it, then he declares he will have his revenge on the moor regardless of whether the reason he gives is true or not. Finally, we learn from his soliloquy that Iago has a great talent for spotting the weakness of others, especially in Othello whose jealousy he manipulates and twists. 'The moor is of free and open nature that but seem to be so, and will as tenderly be led by th' nose as asses are.' After the street brawl that Iago manipulates Roderigo into instigating, Iago speaks to Cassio who is worried about his reputation suffering for his part in the brawl. Iago tries to persuade Cassio that reputation snot important. 'Reputation is an idle and most false imposition; oft got without merit and lost without deserving.' It is ironic for Iago to say that reputation doesn't matter, because it matters so greatly to him. Everyone thinks of him as 'honest Iago', even though he is living under these false pretences, he knows that his plot depends on his good reputation otherwise he would be without authority. ...read more.

Conclusion

Othello speaks the dreadful literal truth. The stage is now clear for Iago to administer further doses of his deadly poison and watch as it takes effect. This begins with an innocent enquiry as to whether Cassio knows of the Othello and Desdemona romance. His refusal to give a direct answer to Othello's question, 'Why dost thou ask?' is characteristic of a main part of his technique. He uses psychological games to break down Othello's [psyche. Making Othello come to his own conclusions, Iago is implying doubt by double phrasing Othello's questions. Tension rises as Othello becomes more impatient, Othello's impatience explodes in an outburst which makes it clear that Iago's technique has succeeded completely: 'By heaven, he echoes me, As if there were some monsters in his thought too hideous to be shown.' We realise that Iago's questions remained imprinted in Othello's mind from Othello's' account of Iago's demeanour and how close he comes to the truth when he speaks of Iago having 'some horrible conceit' within him. Iago bides his time and 'plays' his victim with caution. Othello shows his capacity, to recognise displays of loyalty in villains, but the irony is that he puts Iago in the wrong one of his two categories of 'false, disloyal knave' and 'the just man'. Othello is a play about the hazards of judging people, the way our judgements are likely to be distorted when the people concerned are close to us. M.Crawford 6Ma ...read more.

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