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The Variety of Characters in Shakespeare’s Othello

The Variety of Characters in Othello

William Shakespeare has many ways of illustrating his characters through way of dialogue and language patterns. This is his trademark and it is his ultimate strategy for drawing his reader closer, until they are completely immersed in his play. In Othello we see that a character like Iago has been given a very rough and coldhearted aura about him, which in time shows us as readers how cruel he really is. On the contrary Othello himself is rather noble in his speech, but overall just as clever. These characters are clever in their own separate ways: Othello in living a double life of both war and love (which seems to keep him tied to the battlefield, a danger zone) and Iago is clever in his ways of manipulating an entire lot of people to get what he wants. Any excerpt from the play Othello shows how clever Shakespeare is in his own ways, writing traits that cannot be ignored.

A good example of witty Shakespearean playwriting is in the opening Act of Othello- Act I, Scene i., pg. 78-92. The use of language in this Scene is so classic- for example the way Iago and Roderigo play off of each other in speech. Their goal in the middle of the night is to wake Brabantio (Desdemona’s father) and tell him of the extravagant affair between Othello and her daughter. In the streets of Venice these men holler their way up to his chambers, arising him to the balcony. Shakespeare’s choice of speech is so affective, and so perfect.

Roderigo: Signor (a question of his authority), is all your Family within?

Iago: Are your Doors locked? (Instigating panic)


Shakespeare’s choice of words here is beautiful in its shrewdness, and in so many ways affective. Iago in particular seems to push the situation, and operate the conversation as he always does. He goes on to tell Brabantio his state of confusion and in many ways hypnotize the poor man.

Your heart is burst, you have lost half your soul…an old black Ram is tupping your white Ewe. [Iago:I.i.89-91]

Shakespeare gives Iago’s character such filth, such a stench in the air about him that you can smell it while reading. Here is a character in Othello that is hard to understand, and there have been many views taken on his role.

Free Essay: Iago’s Motives in Shakespeare’s Othello Othello essays

Iago’s Motives in Othello Have you ever met a devil who does evil for his own sake? Iago in William Shakespeare’s Othello could seem like he has good motives, but I feel that he uses them as his excuses. The first thing that I did was uncovered Iago’s motives. Iago is the most controversial character in Othello. He is able to keep his true thoughts and motives from everyone. Are his motives only excuses for his actions? Iago pretends to have so many motives that they seem more like excuses. Iago then uses these excuses to justify his actions, which are pure evil. I also feel that Iago has motives and actions that cause his actions. Does Iago have many different excuses, or does he only have one? This paper will prove that Iago has one clear motive and reason for his madness. Iago is not looking for justification that causes him to act the way he does. There is much more though to Iago. He is not a man of only excuses, he has goals with his motives, which causes him to act the way he does. As early as the first scene of the play Iago shows us strong motives for his actions. In this first scene we see Othello, a general of Venice, has made Cassio his new lieutant. Iago feels he truly deserves his promotion as he says “I know my price, I am worth more no worse a place.”(l.i.12) Iago over here is confused why Othello has made such a stupid decision. Iago is a man with a tremendous ego who knows, sometimes overestimates, his worth. Roderigo, a Venetian gentleman, understands Iago when Iago said that he is “affined to love the Moor.”(l.i.41-42) What Iago really means is “I follow him to serve my term upon him.”(l.i.45) Iago wants to use Othello for his personal goals. We also must put ourselves into Iago’s shoes. He is a man whose self-esteem and professional carrier have just been torn apart. Iago makes his actions of revenge toward Othello almost immediately by informing Brabantio, a Venetian senator and father of Desdemona, that “an old black ram (Othello) is tupping (his) white ewe (Desdemona).”(l.i.97) Iago’s next motive becomes clear when he convinces Othello “that he (Cassio) is too familiar with his (Othello’s) wife.” (1,iii.4399) Iago’s motive here is to break the bond between Othello and Desdemona. At the end of Iago’s speech, Iago’s chief desire is “practicing upon his (Othello’s) peace and quiet.” (2.ii.332) When Iago says Tis here, but yet confused, ” (2.ii.332) he is clearly admitting that he has some sort of plan of what he is doing even though the details are not worked out yet. The reason why Iago has yet to reveal his plan is because he doesn’t want to show his face till his plan get’s done. During Iago’s speech, in 1.ii, he tries to assure himself of the true love Cassio holds for Desdemona when he says “That Cassio loves her, I do well believe ‘t. That she loves him, (Cassio) ’tis apt and of great credit.” (2.i.308-309) In this speech we are able to see Iago act more as a human than a monster. He tries to make himself feel better by convincing himself that his lies are actually true. If he was a devil who does evil for his own sake, than he wouldn’t care if his lies were true or not. Iago speaks of how Othello would prove to be a good husband to Desdemona, he also admits that he loves Desdemona. “I do love her,”(2.i.313) he admits, “Not out of absolute / but led to diet (his) revenge.” (2.i.314,316) This claim of love for Desdemona has a nonsexual implication: Desdemona is an object which enables Iago to seek revenge on Othello. Again, Iago does “suspect the lusty Moor,”(2.i.317) had an affair with his wife Emilia. His motive is to seek revenge and get even with Othello as he says “Till I am evened with him wife for wife.” Iago’s motive is to make Othello overcome by jealousy, “At least into a jealousy so strong,”(2.i.323) that he will not be able to see or think straight. Iago says that jealousy is an affective judgement. Iago is an egotistical man whose self-esteem is hurt. His ability to conceal his true thoughts enables him to plot his revenge. Iago has clear and focused motives and reasons for his actions. Numerous motives ranging from jealousy, hatred, to an injured pride are the driving forces which helps Iago with his actions. Numerous motives ranging from jealousy, hatred, to an injured pride are the driving forces which helps Iago with his actions. Iago is a complex character who can never be fully understood for even he says “I know not what I am.”(1.i.71)

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