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Consider the role of Iago in Act III Scene 3 and show how Shakespeare portrays Iago, and the effect he has on Othello.

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English coursework - 'Othello' �Consider the role of Iago in Act III Scene 3 and show how Shakespeare portrays Iago, and the effect he has on Othello. Iago is clearly the most poisonous and virulent character in 'Othello' and one of the most distinctive villains in the entire Shakespeare collection. Act III scene 3 is the pivotal scene in which his villainy begins to unfold and this has a growing malignancy over Othello and his relationship with Desdemona. Act III is a pivotal scene as Desdemona immediately expresses her willingness to support Cassio and pleads to Othello to reinstate him. Iago uses this action to plant a seed of suspicion into Othello's mind. Later in the scene this suspicion turns into jealousy and emotional turmoil, forcing Othello to take action against this deceit. At the beginning of this scene Desdemona is showing an act of good friendship and devotion towards Cassio as she pleads with her husband to reinstate him. This seems like an innocent act of kindness however Iago takes this situation and distorts the truth and sows the seed of suspicion in Othello's mind. Iago takes loyalty and infects it, he appears sincere and honest yet underneath he is corrupt. This causes a cancerous effect on people and their relationships with others. Iago is such a consummate dissembler that he can even deceive his wife. Desdemona and other characters use the adjective 'honest' to describe Iago. This is dramatic irony as he is only hiding his deceit and covering it with a synthetic honesty, which the audience is clearly aware of. Desdemona promises to Cassio that she will plague and harass Othello until he gives way and reinstates him, '... My lord shall never rest, I'll watch him tame and talk him out of patience; His bed shall seem a school, his board a shrift; I'll intermingle every thing he does With Cassio's suit...' ...read more.


This encourages Othello to believe his lies by pointing out how Desdemona has already deceived her father in marrying him. This echoes Brabantio's final words in Act I scene 3, 'She has deceived her father and may thee.' Iago heard this comment by Brabantio and cleverly stored it in his mind. He then repeated it at a very poignant moment in the play. This again contributes to Othello's suspicion and possible doubt. When Othello and Desdemona were courting she would hide this love and affection from her father and he never noticed this even though he knew her well. Iago implies that this means she is good at putting on false faces and she may well be putting on a false face in front of him. Therefore hiding her feelings for Cassio. This scene also reinforces our sense of Othello's important dramatic status as an 'outsider'. He is someone who is so unfamiliar with Venetian customs and society that Iago's lies will seem plausible. On the other hand, we must be careful not to see Othello as a uniformed gullible fool as Shakespeare is showing us how all people base their judgments of others on what are unstable foundations. For the audience Iago's determination to see the possibilities in the motives of others it becomes impossible for us to see any of the characters with an innocent perspective. This scene is filled with irony as Iago says that Desdemona is a consummate dissembler yet it is Iago who is the true consummate dissembler. These accusations have reduced Othello emotionally and he is now loosing control as long flowing speeches show control and short sharp bursts imply that something is on their mind. Iago is an excellent manipulator of people and words. He uses this talent to his advantages. However using this talent others have to suffer but Iago believes that in the end he will receive what he has been wanting for a while. ...read more.


I will withdraw To furnish me with some swift means of death For the fair devil...' Othello wants Cassio dead and it is Iago's job to fulfill this task. Othello now believes that he is acting rationally. He and Iago have moved together. Previously Iago had refused to listen to Othello's thought and yet now he agrees to kill Cassio for his master. Not only has the death of Cassio been ordered, but the death of Desdemona. Cassio is being killed because pf what he has done and for betraying Othello. On the other hand Desdemona is being killed because Othello loves her and does not want to lose her again. The concluding lines reveal what Iago has wanted all along, '...Now art thou my lieutenant. I am your own forever.' Iago is granted the promotion he had said he wanted at the beginning of the play. If only his motivation had been straight forward then he would surely now be satisfied, but it has come clear that Iago is driven by malevolence that cannot be explained. This scene ends with bitter irony as Othello has lost the one thing he treasures most, Desdemona. However Iago has gained what he treasures the most, a promotion. Iago is totally dominant by the end of the scene and has achieved all he desires. In doing this he has destroyed Othello's love for Desdemona, Desdemona's life, Cassio's life and Othello's piece of mind. This is a pivotal scene in the play as we see Iago for what he really is and his malignant forces are clear to the audience. It is also noticeable that he can have a cancerous affect on people and their relationships once he has placed the seed of jealousy or doubt into their minds. Iago leaves this scene in the ascendancy having gained exactly what he wanted to achieve. Due to the naivety of Othello and his belief of the lies and deceit created by Iago this has had had a detrimental effect on everyone's relationships. ...read more.

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