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Iago: The Animal of Othello.

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Introduction

Ingrid Zeckser Eng 202 Shakespeare Prof. Amato Imagery of Othello April 27, 2003 Iago: The Animal of Othello There are many examples of animal imagery throughout Shakespeare's Othello that are used by the characters in the play both innocently and with the intent to cause harm. Shakespeare uses imagery in Othello to emphasize several of the themes that are found in the play, including reality vs. appearance and good vs. evil. The imagery of people as beasts is strongly introduced in the first scene of Act I, and is thereafter found fairly evenly throughout the rest of the play, maintaining the mood that people are little more then animals, acting on their primal urges. Many of the bestial images are used by Iago in reference to Othello. He is determined to expose Othello for the beast he is by "bringing this monstrous birth to light" (1.3.395). ...read more.

Middle

Iago knows the Moor to be an honest and trusting man, who takes people at face value, believing they are honest if they appear that way. Iago sees this as a weakness and thinks Othello can "as tenderly be led by th' nose / as asses are" (1.3.392-393). Iago also knows of Othello's strong obsession with justice and honor and sees these qualities as a means to manipulate the Moor into murdering Desdemona and thus exposing him as a beast. Iago begins his evil work by "pour[ing] this pestilence into his (Othello's) ear", hinting at Desdemona's infidelity (2.2.356). Othello begins to wonder how he would feel if he did "prove her haggard / Though that her jesses were [his] dear heartstrings" and realizes he would "rather be a toad/ And live upon the vapor of a dungeon" then be married to a wife that lets others use her (3.3.259-260, 269-270). ...read more.

Conclusion

Instead, it is Iago, while in his attempts to prove the Moor a beast, exposes himself as the true animal in Othello. From the beginning of the play, we are aware of Iago's lack of human compassion. He tells Roderigo that "Ere I would say I would drown myself for the love of a guinea-hen, I would change my humanity with a baboon", or that he would rather be an animal then give his life for someone else or for the sake of love (1.3.314-316). As the play moves along, Iago becomes more and more beast-like as his determination to destroy the Moor intensifies. Though he claims he has reason to hate the Moor, his reasons are a shallow excuse for his animal behavior. Unlike Othello, Iago needs no just reason to carry out a murder, but only his own desire for bestial gratification. ...read more.

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