Discuss The Character Of Iago. Consider Both The Nature Of His Character And How It Is Conveyed. Othello By William Shakespeare

1158 words - 5 pages

The most fascinating and curious character in the tragic play "Othello", by William Shakespeare, is "Honest" Iago. In the play his nature is conveyed to the audience in many ways. Iago's character is determined by his relationship with the other characters in the play. His betrayal of those who love him that occurs throughout the text is a prime example of this, and is emphasised further by dramatic irony. Iago, as the height of evil and villainy, has the typical immorality and cunning about him. Due to Iago's innate sense of deception, he has two major personalities, one of appearance and the other of reality. But Shakespeare instead of making his villain transparent, Iago is given depth and spirit.The deceitful nature of Iago is conveyed to the audience by his treachery of the other characters, especially Othello. Iago appears to be extremely plausible, building a fabricated trust with those who surround him. He is the image of the soldier, frank, down-to-earth if a little vulgar in speech, "honest" and loyal. It is how Iago wants to be seen and, until the end of the play, how the characters see him. The audience knows that he is a cynical man who really does not mean what he says. In Act I, Iago stirs up Brabantio - without being seen - against Othello, saying, "I am one sir, that comes to tell you your daughter / and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs." Latter on in Act I, Iago goes on to present himself as the brave defender of Othello's reputation against Brabantio's attack on it. Iago says, "It is Brabantio. General, be advised; He comes to bad intent." He then stands his ground with Othello against Brabantio.Above all he is the friend that appears "loyal" who sees it as his duty to tell Othello about Desdemona's "affair" with Cassio. It is Iago whom Desdemona sends for in her hour of need [Act IV Scene II]. Othello holds Iago to be his close friend and advisor. He believes Iago to be a person, "of exceeding honesty, knows all qualities, with learned spirit of human dealings." [Act III, Scene III, Line 257] Yes, he does know all about human dealings, but he is not honest. He uses the trust Othello puts in him to turn Othello eventually into a jealous and insecure man. The appearance of Iago differs greatly from the reality.What, then, of the real Iago? Iago is revealed in the play as proud. "I know my price, I am worth no worse a place", he says as he complains to Roderigo about having been passed over for promotion. Iago's deception is apparent throughout the play. However Iago also deceives himself. We see evidence of this self-deceit in the scene where he talks to Roderigo [Act I Scene III]. Iago sees our lives as "gardens" where we can "plant lettuces" or "nettles", that is, we can choose what emotions we will feel - good or bad. It is all a question of "will". This is an obvious delusion. If he can control what he feels, why cannot he simply will himself not to feel hatred towards Othello, for example, for not promoting...

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