Analysis Of Iago’s Character In Shakespeare’s Othello

In William Shakespeare's Othello, the character Iago is a conniving trickster who plays the role of the antagonist, manipulating the other characters to meet his personal agenda. Shakespeare shows the audience his true nature as well as his ability to spin lies and exploit other characters in his soliloquies, his asides, and his dialogue throughout the play. In addition to this, Iago’s character is integral to advancing the plot, foreshadowing events, and inciting dramatic irony.

In the first scene of the play, Iago is introduced to the audience while plotting against Othello. He is shown convincing the character Roderigo of his dislike of the Moor and detailing his plans to rise up in the ranks and undermine Cassio, Othello’s right hand man. He regales Roderigo with stories of how servants or lower classmen rise up and become their own masters, convincing the poor lad to assist him. He and Roderigo then call upon Desdemona's father Brabantio, shouting about how he has been robbed of his precious daughter. “I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter and the Moor are now making / the beast with two backs”. This line shows how Iago does not shy away from using vulgar and rude remarks to get the reaction he desires. After rousing Brabantio into a rage, Iago calmy takes his leave and goes to Othello's side to tell him how the father of his wife is against him and slandering his name. This quick turnabout is just the first of many and reveals to the audience Iago’s masterful trickery and cunning nature.

Later in the play, after the soldiers are sent to Cyprus, Iago continues in his scheme to undermine Cassio and begins to lay subtle traps to ensnare him in his web of lies. In a mixture of soliloquies and asides, Iago tells the audience how he plans to trick Othello into thinking that Cassio is sleeping with his wife, Desdemona. Through careful plotting and trickery, he slowly plants doubt in Othello’s mind and Othello’s dialogue starts to shift. Whereas at the beginning of the play Othello was shown as an honorable man who was extremely trusting, Iago poisons this and he starts to shift to a jealous and suspicious character. This is just another example of how Iago’s dialogue and character are integral to the play as a whole. In addition to this, Shakespeare's choice to give the audience so much insight into Iago’s mind helps the buildup of dramatic irony as the audience is privy to things the characters do not.

All in all, it is amazing to watch or read the development of the character Iago in Shakespeare's Othello. The audience gets to see how he is a masterful liar and trickster and how he is a catalyst for many events in the play. The way he pushes other characters, reveals things to the audience, and does it all with carefully chosen words. It truly makes one think of how much power dialogue truly has to shape a story. 

16 December 2021
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