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Referring to Iago's soliloquy at the end of Act I scene III, examine what Shakespeare shows the audience about his character

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Referring to Iago's soliloquy at the end of Act I scene III, examine what Shakespeare shows the audience about his character Iago is one of the central characters within Shakespeare's 'Othello' and is introduced extremely early in the play, Act I scene I. It is generally assumed from even this early in the play that Iago is cunning, plotting man as he converses with Rodrigo. Throughout the centuries the common opinion on Iago is that he is an insidious, misogynistic, materialistic, dissimulating character, among other things. Few critics have spoken in appraisal of Iago's character and actions. In act I scene III, Iago ends the scene with his first soliloquy. Soliloquies generally reveal a lot about a person's character to the audience, but this is the first time the audience gets a taste of his thoughts. He begins by discussing Rodrigo: 'My fool my purse' This is particularly dissimulating as he had just been talking to Rodrigo, planning how to match make him with Desdemona. ...read more.


Iago displayed the same reaction that most men would, and so felt betrayed and angry, although he did not know for sure that the act occurred. This is a good argument against Coleridge's critical comment on his actions. He described his actions as: 'Motiveless malignity'. This does appear to be the case, to a certain extent. Especially for a modern day audience, we find it harder to accept that Iago would become so nasty to people so close to him, but to an Elizabethan audience it would be more believable without any motive behind him. This part of the speech may not excuse his behavior for the rest of the play, but it is a starting point, it gives the audience something to relate to, to begin to justify his actions. 'Cassio is a proper man' with this sense of the word, proper means handsome rather then suitable. This appears to be a compliment to Cassio, but again Iago is using him for his own means. ...read more.


It is this perception that makes the play possible. Othello is Iago's general; therefore he should be respected, and not ridiculed, which he is in this soliloquy: 'As asses are'. It is disrespectful for Iago to be referring to his general as a fool, whether he is a Blackamoor or not. This shows that Iago is not a decent character; he does not even have the decency to respect his general, let alone other aspects of his character. Towards the end of the soliloquy, Iago refers to: 'Hell and night' Which would have been a lot more relevant to an Elizabethan audience as it represents the devil and malicious behavior. It is ironic that he uses devilish language, as he is associated with the devil due to his evil character. To emphasize this point, he also says: 'Monstrous birth to the world's light'. This also would have had a greater impact on an Elizabethan audience, and this is only the beginning of the devilish language used by Iago. It was said by William Turnbull that: 'Iago is an unbeliever in, and a denier of, all things spiritual, who only acknowledges God, like Satan, to defy him'. ...read more.

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