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The Peculiarities Of Iago's Speech in Othello

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In William Shakespeare’s classic tragic play ‘Othello’, published in 1622, the dangers of illusion and deception develops in the play as Iago manipulates his appearances and works to fool Othello who has trouble differentiating between what appears to be true and what really is true. Iago adopts his preferable style of speech to conceive images in characters’ minds which are distant from reality. Throughout the play, every character views him as an “genuine” and “honorable” friend, who consistently gives valuable advice. However in reality, only the audience who observed his soliloquies in which he says, “I am not what i am”, recognizes what his true intentions are, thus forming tragic tension in the play. Opposed to Iago, Othello is generally characterized as virtuous and honest in every way. Unfortunately for Othello, he sees both Cassio and Desdemona as the duplicitous ones which sooner leads to his downfall, as well as arising in Desdemona’s death. Iago being two-faced and back-stabbing, the other characters’ willingness to believe him before thinking twice is the active strength of the play and it’s plot.

Iago, the main antagonist of the play, is a man with an obsession for control and power over others, who had let this delusion take over his life. He is a character who constantly “embraces” the shadow rather than direct exposure. In addition he triggers other individuals insecurities and doubts. He exhibits the ability of mastering manipulation and duplicity over people who had formerly believed and trusted him. As well as having the greatest talent of differentiating his manipulative plans of sabotaging and deceiving the ones around him with what he leads people to suppose as honesty. He utters the words, “I am not what I am” which essentially interprets to “i am not what i appear to be” meaning that he fools others into believing that he is a servant to Othello when in reality he is a slave for himself.

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Throughout the play, he depicts himself as a devil figure. He has proven himself to be a master of deception. He slanders to everyone to cover his own thoughts. In Act 1, he addresses very aggressive language when conveying his feelings towards Cassio, when talking to Othello. He lies during the whole speech pretending loyalty to a soldier. He recites the saying, ‘I had rather have this tongue cut from my mouth. Than it should do offense to Michael Cassio’. This falsehood persuades and satisfies Othello that his officer is a valuable and devoted soldier. Iago also benefits in deceiving Cassio. After Cassio’s drunken battle, Iago supports him to plead to Desdemona to convince Othello to rehire him as lieutenant. Seemingly, Cassio is capable of being deceived by Iago. During the play Iago gives a statement of his strategy of deception in a soliloquy. He describes how the devil uses the display of something good to deceive the desires that we know are evil. He informs how he will accomplish the same while Cassio is pleading to Desdemona. Through deception, Iago established the appearance of good, which is what tricked people around him into thinking he is honest and sincere.

Othello, a moor in the play, is an appointed general in the Venetian army. He serves as the hero with minor flaws of jealousy and suspicion. Shakespeare introduces Othello, as a noble, ethical, and dignified man, but because of his insecurities and good humor, he is exploited easily and influenced by his peers and supposed friends. The effective of Othello’s character undoubtedly shifts throughout the play. The disparity is most definite from the beginning of the play to its conclusion, changing from being patient and moderate to acts of rampant hateful fury. Othello’s ambition in the play emerges to be his admire and worry for his wife Desdemona, which supposedly, ends up being his downfall in the end. In the play, Iago skillfully composes his plot of destroying Othello by influencing the character’s perceptions of Desdemona. Othello, not aware that Cassio was speaking with Desdemona in desire of being rehired as Lieutenant, falsely believes that the two are having an affair and that Desdemona has lost her purity. Iago then exploits the situation by expanding his attack deeper: “She did deceive her father, marrying you”. Othello initiates to see Iago’s argument: if she could deceive her father, she could just as freely betray her new husband.

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The Peculiarities Of Iago’s Speech in Othello. (2022, Jun 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 3, 2023, from
“The Peculiarities Of Iago’s Speech in Othello.” Edubirdie, 16 Jun. 2022,
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