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Compare and contrast the characters of Othello and Iago, with reference to Act 1 of "Othello"

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Introduction

Compare and contrast the characters of Othello and Iago, with reference to Act 1 of "Othello" Othello and Iago are different in their characters as well as in their colours. It could be said also, however, that they are similar because of their fallibility. Iago is overcome with his desire for revenge to such an extent that he puts it into action. Othello's love and possessiveness of Desdemona take over him until he eventually would rather kill her than allow anyone else to have her. In this way, despite their contrasts, Iago and Othello both represent the extremity of the same thing - human emotion. Both characters can be viewed like this throughout Act 1. We immediately see Iago as representative of the very basest elements of humanity. ...read more.

Middle

Another grudge is his suspicion of Othello that "twixt my sheets he has done my office" Iago has heard a rumour that Othello has slept with his wife, and now he wants revenge. But Iago does not feel betrayal by his wife, or feel that she has been wronged; it appears to be just another excuse to get back at Othello. Whereas Othello does have a sense of self-interest, his interest in other people's happiness is greater. When confronted with the idea that he has enchanted Desdemona, he replies that if it is true to "let your sentence fall even to my life". He would rather be killed than know he is causing his love unhappiness. He would happily sacrifice everything for others - his sense of duty is strong. ...read more.

Conclusion

He summarises his tactics when he says, of his relationship with Othello: "I follow him to serve my turn upon him" Whilst Iago is a dual personality, Othello is constant. He is the same with everyone (except Desdemona - understandably, as they are married). He is open, bold and unafraid. He admits, when he says "rude am I in my speech" that he is no great orator, and this perhaps contributes to his honesty and open level with all other characters. He is "unvarnished", as opposed to Iago, whom one could say is so 'varnished' that only the audience can see through all his layers to the deceit within. Neither character is wholly positive. Whilst we recognise Iago as the 'melodramatic' villain, we can also see that Othello is not altogether good, and that his possessiveness of Desdemona could get the better of him and prove his downfall. ...read more.

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