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Iago

  • Date Submitted: 07/12/2015 06:18 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 47.8 
  • Words: 921
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The language of Othello and Iago
The contrast in the characters of these two is reflected in their language. Othello is noted for the beauty of his speaking, about which he makes falsely-modest jokes, claiming to be “rude” in his speech and (being black) not to have “those soft parts of conversation” which “chamberers have”. Audiences have felt the beauty of Othello's speeches, but we should note that within the play, characters are aware of it (the Duke suggests that Othello's “tale would win” his daughter, too). It is a quality which Othello has doubtless developed and found useful, as a commander, for its inspiring effect on his men; that a woman with a thirst for adventure should also be inspired by it is not surprising to us. It has not occurred to Brabantio that this would move Desdemona to love, and it may at first have surprised Othello, but, given a hint by Desdemona, “upon this hint” he “spake”, and won her. Othello's rhetoric is presented somewhat ambiguously. There is no doubt that he really does love using his gifts of composition, of poetic comparison, and of oratory (=art of public speaking; it is made clear that the tone of his voice is as musical as what he says) to achieve beauty in his speaking, and that, allowing for some imaginative colouring of things recalled, he uses these gifts to speak truth.
On the other hand, we have a sense of Othello's self-consciousness, of knowing he is adopting a rôle, just as his controlled display of anger at the brawl in Act 3, scene 3 is something of a pose. The language of Venice and the manners of the Venetian army will have been learned by one who uses them with evident awareness of what he is doing. Thus, Othello's final speech in Act 5, scene 2, though it is an honest confession in its detail, is delivered with an eye (or ear, rather) to effect: he knows it is his epitaph, and does his best to make it as resonant and moving in manner, as it is poignant but dignified in content. We can see this in, say,...

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