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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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Introduction

Othello coursework: Act III scene 3 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 one of Shakespeare's most unforgettable desperados. In Act III scene 3 Iago's feelings are driven by a passion of such intense strength that, even though we might understand his motives, it is difficult to feel that anything other than pure evil could compel him to such extremes of behaviour as a result. We also see Iago taking a powerful, sadistic delight in the damage which he causes throughout the scene, and how he has a cancerous effect on Othello and his relationship with Desdemona. Iago manipulates the perceptions of other characters with great skill, using lies which contain sufficient truth. He is an opportunist, and takes advantage of anything. 'Ha! I like not that.' Iago plants a seed of guilt, which he nurtures throughout the scene. He advocates that the figure he has seen leaving cannot be Cassio, because he is a respectable and worthy man who would not stoop to such a sneaking and fraudulent kind of behaviour. By suggesting that an action, which might seem innocent, may in reality conceal something altogether more suspicious, Iago cleverly hints that Cassio has a guilty conscience. The effectiveness of the compound word 'guilty-like' used by Iago puts an element of doubtfulness and apprehension in Othello. ...read more.

Middle

This echoes Brabantio's final words in Act I scene 3. 'She had deceived her father, and may thee.' Iago reminds Othello this at the best possible time, when he is feeling at his most vulnerable. Iago tells Othello how Desdemona is exceptionally good at deceiving people, as she did it to her own father. This is also ironic as Iago is a skilled dissembler, and yet is accusing Desdemona of also being a consummate dissembler. Othello is reduced to single utterances, which show he is losing confidence and has something on his mind. It shows the impact Iago is having on him. Again, it illustrates to us that Iago is now the much more dominant of the two and is gaining control. Othello's diminutive answers show he is reading into what Iago is saying. This also emphasizes our sense of Othello's significant theatrical status as an 'outsider', someone so unfamiliar with the Venetian customs and society that Iago's lies will seem conceivable, and who will accept as true the suggestion that all Venetian women routinely commit treachery and betrayal. Iago is not only an expert at manipulating people, but also at manipulating words. 'I think she's honest' Iago ingeniously picks up on words and fills them with hesitation and doubt. Othello reacts to this by leaving the stage. This shows us that the poison, which Iago planted, is now spreading. Iago has a cancerous effect on him. ...read more.

Conclusion

Iago uses animal images to describe the action of Cassio and Desdemona together. This is significant as he is again reducing beauty to a disgusting act. He reduces the sex act to a bestial and foul level. 'Do not rise yet.' Iago kneels with Othello as they swear a 'sacred vow' to seek 'black vengeance' against Desdemona and Cassio. As Iago's work on Othello begins to stoke up a furnace of jealousy and his sense of wronged honour, we see a change in Othello's behaviour. We also see how the language of Iago and Othello has been interchanged with the roles. Iago is now clearly the master in the relationship, as the villain speaks of vows to heaven. Othello, using language more appropriate to that of Iago, says of Desdemona: 'Damn her, lewd minx'. His effectiveness as a character in the play rests upon the way he is seen differently by the other characters, who see loyalty, honesty and trustworthiness, and by the audience, who see a malevolent, who manipulates others with the intention of completely destroying them. Iago is portrayed as a self-admiring, vicious, weak, cruel and arrogant character that is only able to achieve his ends through the weakness of others. He is not merely a symbol of iniquity and malevolence, but is much more. The malign Iago turns Othello, from a noble, heroic, loving innocent man and destroys him. Iago falls prey to the same suspicion he generates in Othello and, through controlling the plot for most of the scene, moves Othello towards his cynical view of the world. ...read more.

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