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How does Iago affect the audience in Act 2, Scene 1?

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How does Iago affect the audience in Act 2, Scene 1? In Act 2, Scene 1, Iago presents himself as the most important individual on stage. Through his actions and his soliloquy the audience are clear on who is moving the scene along. Iago plays the role of bluff soldier in his exchange with Desdemona. This is shown as a mark of his power, and when he is most 'honest' Iago presents a captivating figure to the audience, one who is outspoken, which is amusing for the audience because of the contents of his lines but also very entertaining for the way in which Iago says them. His honesty and frankness towards Desdemona and Emilia would be a new feeling for the audience, used to Iago's asides, 'Players in your housewifery, and housewives in... Your beds!' Although initially speaking to Emilia Iago includes Desdemona by the use of the plural, stating the fact that they do not conduct themselves with skill in the house but are very experienced and skilful in bed. This would be amusing to the audience but quite shocking at the same time, for Iago appears very open and truthful when relating this point. ...read more.


Ironically, Shakespeare has used Cassio to highlight what an effect Iago is having, 'you may relish him more in the soldier than in the scholar'. Cassio believes Iago is a better soldier than a scholar. This could be interpreted as a complement, for the audience is very clear of Iago's mental ability and therefore must a great soldier. Alternatively, Cassio could be meaning that he better keep to being a soldier than trying to be a scholar. If this is the interpretation that stands as the one most fitting, it is ironic then that we know Cassio is underestimating him and clearly cannot understand what Iago says. Through Shakespeare's use of the line it highlights that Iago does have control over the characters and Cassio is susceptible to his tricks, which is an element of foreshadowing. Iago, as mentioned earlier is very cunning in this scene, and extremely playful with Desdemona, considering his wife, Emilia is in their presence, ' If she be fair and wise, fairness and wit, The one's for use, the other useth it'. Iago is very ambiguous in his use of the word fair. ...read more.


Iago's domination of the scene gives arise for a new light to be shed on Emilia, 'How if fair and foolish'. Emilia shows to the audience that she is quite perceptive, for she has to parry off of her husband who is grabbing the most attention on stage. Roderigo is demonstrated in this scene to be nothing more than a plot device due to Iago's central role. In Iago's speeches to Roderigo we are let in on the plan to disgrace Cassio. Roderigo's presence is to avoid Iago continuously making speeches to himself, which may make the structure of the plot seem tired and repetitive. This is coupled with the fact that Roderigo is not a rounded character and his exchanges are always with Iago or another member and as such never leads a scene and is only present to advance the plot and allow Iago to think aloud. It is clear then that Iago has a far-reaching effect on the audience. One moment he is being humorous and the next he is using riddles that may confuse the audience. This in turn makes Iago a much more interesting character and as such makes Act 2, Scene 1 a central point for the development of Iago's character and the appreciation of this by the audience. ...read more.

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