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Read the following extract from Act 1, Scene 3 - In what ways does this dialogue illustrate Iago's persuasive skills?

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Introduction

Read the following extract from Act 1, Scene 3. In what ways does this dialogue illustrate Iago's persuasive skills? The whole play centres on Iago's manipulation of Othello and resulting death of many protagonists. His manipulation is mainly due to his skill in rhetoric. Unlike Othello, whose words are highly polished, he speaks spontaneously. The message is therefore subtle and the listener is convinced unwittingly. He manages to dissuade Roderigo from committing suicide over Desdemona's love for the Moor Othello. Iago uses clever metaphors and imagery. He says, "our bodies are our gardens", that we can organize our bodies by controlling our minds, which act as gardeners. This helps Roderigo to understand what he means, and makes it appear as though Iago is knowledgeable about having power over emotion - this may well be so if he manages to behave so despicably. It may be the reason why he is cold in nature himself. Iago also uses food to symbolise sex: "The food that to him now is as luscious as locusts shall be to him shortly as acerbe as coloquintida." ...read more.

Middle

He is mocking Roderigo gently, supposedly as a friend. By following with "a fig!" he answers the rhetorical question himself, as he is proposing that Roderigo's statement was nonsense. After breaking down his pawn's argument, and illustrating his ideas with imagery, he can insert imperatives: "Come, be a man" (Ll.15-16) As Roderigo is now unsure of his view, he is vulnerable. By being told what to do, he is much more likely to accept these commands at this point. Repetition emphasises a certain viewpoint of the argument: "Put money in thy purse" (Ll.18-19) This statement is repeated many times throughout the speech - ten times overall, as interjections into the main bulk of the speech. It is through this recurrence that Roderigo can pick it out as more important than anything else. Iago borrows money from his 'friend' at the beginning of the play, and so the money that he is being told to put in his purse may well ruin Roderigo. ...read more.

Conclusion

It talks, as does a lot of the play, about free will versus predestination. As he believes that our bodies are our gardens, and that we can choose how we feel, Iago clearly does not agree that human beings are predestined to act a particular way: "'Tis in ourselves that we are thus or thus" (L.3) Yet he clearly does not believe Othello to be such a man, as he is the one to altar how the Moor feels. Maybe it is a justification to him, if he feels any guilt, that the destruction is not all his doing. There is also the debate of whether or not people can stay in love. Although he speaks of Othello and Desdemona, it is probable that he is thinking of his own wife. They appear to have lost the love they once shared, shown in Act 2 Scene 1 when Iago insults Emilia shamelessly. He knows what it is like to find that "when she is sated with his body, she will find the error of her choice". The passage in general illustrates clearly how Iago can altar a situation in his favour. ...read more.

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