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I am not what I am. Explore Shakespeare(TM)s presentation of Iago

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Introduction

"I am not what I am." Explore Shakespeare's presentation of Iago Iago is a truly sophisticated and a compelling villain. He is a Machiavelli much like Shakespeare's Richard the third and through a thorough diagnosis of his character it would seem that Iago is inherently evil. Iago is a classic 'Jekyll and Hyde' character, a role which he plays well, a so-called "honest" man by many characters in the play but in reality his characterisation is that of the "devil". From the moment he utters his first words on stage it is evident to the audience that Iago is a duplicitous, manipulative yet intelligent character who acts as the catalyst for most of the tragic events in the play. Iago is a character consumed with jealously, loathing and yet his tact is presented in a decidedly and socially acceptable fashion. Iago displays a great talent for manipulation and deceit. He can very easily manipulate the desires and insecurities of those around him, thus making him both a powerful and compelling figure. Shakespeare places him in a position of extreme power, Iago is the one that all of the characters trust and confide in and he uses this to his advantage. It is very clear to an audience that Iago enjoys being the one in control and therefore doesn't need much to convince himself that what he is doing is right. ...read more.

Middle

As the play continues, Iago's utter contempt for both morality and honesty is revealed, his loyalty is to himself and himself alone. We see that Iago does not trust anyone, as he would depict this as a weakness or character flaw. However ironically as aforementioned many of thee characters for example Othello, both confide and trust Iago entirely. He himself states that he is, "an honest man" , such statements are inserted into conversations with Othello, " I am your own forever" and Roderidgo which influence this characters to believing what Iago says is the truth. Shakespeare presents Iago as a man who is strong in language. Iago's language is well structured and clever. He uses language as the best weapon in his arsenal to persuade and convince the characters in the play that he is acting justly in his actions, he is the one to trust and doing his will is the right thing to do. Iago's language continually changes throughout depending on to whom he is speaking. At different points in the play Iago slips between prose and verse, allowing him quickly change in order to suit different characters and purpose thus displaying his true conniving nature. This is evident in Iago's blunt prose when speaking with Roderigo conveying an immoral character. Also Iago's conversations with Roderigo in particular make elaborate use of vegetable metaphor. ...read more.

Conclusion

This in a way undermines his own success because he does not no where to stop, he can not see that his own destruction is coming. Throughout the play the imagery of a spider drawing his net to catch his prey is constantly used, "I shall ensnare them all". So just like a spider, Iago has set his web and nothing can stop him now. Although Iago is caught out in his ruthless actions as the play draws to a close, he still appears to hold authority over each character. As he has indeed succeeded in his original intent, to "enmesh them all" and cause Othello's destruction. However Iago refuses to justify his actions, "Demand me nothing; what you know, you know", which is indeed ironic and Iago remains some what inscrutable. Overall Shakespeare has presented a character of extreme wit and intelligence while also presenting a character capable of extreme deceit and manipulation. We as an audience can even find ourselves victims of his manipulation however through his language and wit we find ourselves on his side. Although there is lack of convincing motivation, his language and his ability to influence the characters and the audience, make it seem otherwise. Although an extremely heinous character, in my opinion Iago is admirable for his intelligence, quick improvisation and is in fact a genius in his actions. A perfect construction by Shakespeare, that shows us character flaws in ourselves and therefore a great deal of empathy can be build up with the character of Iago. ...read more.

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