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The Ironic Interdependence of Othello and Iago

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Introduction

��ࡱ�>�� :<����9�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������5@ ��0-bjbj�2�2 (@�X�Xq"�������������������8� �<��v::::::::vxxxxxx$mR����:::::���::�DDD:�:�:vD:vDDV��V:. `�i8���:Vv�0�V� : � V������� �V ::D:::::��DThe Ironic Interdependence of Othello and Iago At the start of Othello, Iago makes very clear to Roderigo the apparent cause for his hatred of the general. His lack of promotion to lieutenant leads him to declare: �be judge yourself, Whether I in any just term am affin'd To love the Moor. (I, i, 38-40.) FN1 As Roger Moore has pointed out in an essay accompanying this one, such a motive is not a grand-scale one, nor one which might cast Iago as the Universal Villain. His secondary motive, however, provides a different insight into his character, and provides the first instance of the theme which will dominate this play : sexual jealousy: I hate the Moor, And it is thought abroad, that 'twixt my sheets He's done my office; (I, iii, 384-386) More than this, however, it is the very fact that he acknowledges the nature of the suspicion (rumour) and then dismisses it from his mind that shows the inherently insecure nature of this villain. He has fallen into the same trap over Cassio ('For I fear Cassio with my nightcap too' [II, i, 302]), and his jealousy is attested to even by his wife: Some such squire he was, That turn'd your wit, the seamy side without, And made you suspect me with the Moor. ...read more.

Middle

who is unhardened by military experience and 'That never set a squadron in the field.' (I, i, 22) It is consequently not such a great step from loyal and honest companion to 'villainous knave' and 'scurvy fellow' (IV, ii, 140-141) as Emilia ironically calls the unknown defamer of Desdemona's virtue. Scorned and overlooked by the great leader, Iago is left with nothing but his anger and his sense of abandonment. Despite his initial claims, he is not that interested in reclimbing the ladder of military promotion. It has, after all, rejected him, and the days of 'old gradation' (I, i, 37) based upon 'honest' service are gone. And, he is promoted to the position of Lieutenant at the end of III, iii. What is left to Iago is the sheer pleasure of destroying all that he had believed in, and which is reflected in Othello's eulogy over himself: Farewell the tranquil mind! Farewell content! Farewell the plum�d troops, and the big wars That make ambition virtue � O, farewell! Farewell the neighing steed and the shrill trump, The spirit-stirring drum, th'ear-piercing fife, The royal banner, and all quality, Pride, pomp, and circumstance, of glorious war! (III, iii, 350-355) As Iago gloats at the loss of Othello's 'sweet sleep' displayed in the speech above, he fails to recognise the ironic reflection on himself. ...read more.

Conclusion

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