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What Do We Learn of Iago's Charater in Act 1 Part 1

  • Date Submitted: 10/09/2011 02:14 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 40.7 
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what do we learn about the character iago from his introduction to the play in act one

focus on language, impact on characters, personality, motivatioon, positioning on stage

tradgedy / military context

Iago is according to A.C.Bradley’s lecture, “supreme among Shakespeare’s evil characters because the greatest subtlety and imagination went into his making”. Furthermore Iago is said to have the two most evil traits as seen by Shakespeare: absolute egotism and evil that is compatible and allies himself easily, as is the case of Iago toying with Rodrigo’s mind so as to use his money.  

Iago begins his speech with a description of what “three great ones” did for him; from this we learn that Iago has powerful connections in the Venetian courts and military. His language is venomous describing Othello’s speech as “Horribly stuffed with epithets of war”. While others would describe Othello’s manner of speech as extravagant at worst, Iago describes it as “bombast”. This is not one would expect from a subordinate in the military, however it is also understandable since Iago feels that he was cheated from his rightful promotion. Iago’s foul language continues when he describes Cassio as the “Florentine” as a means of showing that he, Iago, as a true Venetian should is born better than a “Florentine”. Furthermore Iago uses sarcasm when describing Cassio: “a great arithmetician”, a “bookish theoric”, Iago shows disdain for Cassio because he does not have practical experience, only theory. Furthermore, Iago describes his fellow soldier as a “spinster” meaning a lady in Shakespearean times, as well as “mere prattle”. In contrast to his harsh descriptions of Othello and Cassio, Iago describes himself in a completely different manner. He speaks of his achievements and experience “At Rhodes, at Cyprus, and on other grounds Christian and heathen”. Iago boasts of his achievements and of the battles he has fought while he calls Cassio a “debitor and creditor" counter...


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