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Commentary on Iagos soliloquy (1.3.365-386)

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Introduction

Commentary on Iago's soliloquy (1.3.365-386) Taking place in the closing stages of Act One, Iago's soliloquy is a culmination of all the scheming and skulduggery preceding it and confirms audience's suspicions that Iago is planning the ultimate downfall of Othello. Whilst Iago's eagerness to catalyse an already grave situation is well known by the audience, such as when he urges Roderigo to "call up [Desdemona's] father" alerting him to the theft of his daughter, before this soliloquy Iago's willingness to manufacture cause for conflict entirely through his own manipulation has not been observed. When finally Iago is left alone on stage he is able to divulge his plan's to "abuse Othello's ear' doctoring him to believe that Cassio has become "too familiar with [Othello's] wife". The manifestation of these plans will become the driving force behind the remaining four acts and as such this soliloquy, in which the audience becomes aware of this scheme, is greatly important. As cunning and deceptive as we have come to expect, this soliloquy is confirmation to the audience of the self-superior, malicious, scheming character of Iago. ...read more.

Middle

Musing that "the moor is of a free and open nature", audiences are chilled both by the astuteness of Iago as well as by the fact that Iago is aware of Othello's weaknesses. Iago's observation that Othello has an "open nature" may be construed as a sexual reference, conveying perhaps the ease with which Othello can be exploited with sexual stimulus, in this case Desdemona's affair. As with the preceding act, this soliloquy uses the theme of obscurity to feed into the overarching idea of deception. The main example of this is Iago's description of the process of realising his plan, advising that "hell and night must bring this monstrous birth to the world's light", using the rhyme between "night" and "light" to augment the declaration of the critical secrecy of his plan with more gravity. Iago's description of his plot as a "monstrous birth" seems inconsistent with his previously displayed shameless malevolence - perhaps he displays the shadow of guilt over his plan as he is aware of the elements of Othello's greatness such as courage and battle-prowess being a man of war himself. ...read more.

Conclusion

As Iago goes through this soliloquy there is a sense, despite the slightly obscure use of language, that with all other characters off-stage the audience is finally allowed a brief glimpse into his thought process. Both his use of rhetoric questions and the long meandering sentences he uses manufacture the sense that Iago is thinking out loud for example as he appeals "How? How? Lets See. After some time, to abuse Othello's ear that he is too familiar with his wife; he hath a person and a smooth dispose to be suspected, framed to make women false". The repeated question "how? How?" also perhaps conveys Iagos chilling desperation to devise a plan capable of felling Othello. Overall this soliloquy has a variety of effects on the audience. Whilst at first it may be perceived as a comfort finally having the plans and motivations of Iago illuminated this is quickly thwarted as his sinister intentions planning the downfall of Othello become apparent. In revealing his intentions, Iago has endowed the narrative with a foreboding atmosphere as the audience wait, their breaths bated, hoping that his desires do not come into fruition. ...read more.

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