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The Reasons Iago Stayed Silent in Othello

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In act 5 scene 2 of Othello, Iago had chosen to stay silent when confronted by Othello, after he was caught manipulating him into killing Desdemona. He had done this for various reasons which included keeping Othello and others thinking about his motives, having accomplished everything he had wanted to from the start, and the realization of what he had done and what consequences that lie ahead of him. Iago's choice had helped Iago as it kept everyone, mainly Othello, in a state of confusion as to why Iago wanted to ruin his life. It had inflicted more pain among others as well, which were his intentions from the start. Iago usually used his words to carry out this job but in this case, silence had worked just as well.

By not choosing to answer Othello's question and promising to remain in a state of silence Iago knows that this will lead to regret along with questioning from Othello. It shows this in the text when Othello asks on page 125 of act 5 scene 2 “Why he hath thus ensnared my soul and body?” (5.2,298) In the following scene, Othello is questioning Iago as to why he chose to ruin his life which Iago responds by saying that he shall not answer his question and from now on he shall stay silent. As a result of this response, Othello wouldn’t be able to figure out Iago's true motives behind his plan and will spend the rest of his life (which wasn’t very long) thinking about Iago and the way he had manipulated himself. He will also live with misery considering the fact that Othello had murdered his innocent wife who had done nothing but love and cherish him while he doubted her honesty and neglected her. A plan that was carried out well by Iago which had harmed many people.

Iago had also stayed silent because he had done what he had set out to do from the start. He ruined Othello's life and there was nothing else for him to accomplish. All the way back in act 1 scene 1 we see this when Iago claims on page 3 “I know my price; I am worth no worse a place…” (1.1, 9-14) In the following conversation, Iago was explaining that he hated Othello due to the position Iago was put in which was one of the lowest there was. The position he wanted was taken by Cassio who Iago believed had no place in. As a result, Iago had decided that he would ruin these people's lives, which he did. Iago causes Othello to kill his wife which lead to Othello suiciding. He nearly killed Cassio as well, as he stabbed him in the leg. There was nothing else for him to do or achieve and as a result, he chose to stay silent which ended up causing harm as well. He had done everything he set out to do so there was no point in doing anything else.

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Finally, Iago had stayed silent because of the death of his wife Emilia and the life of punishment he was waiting. We see this occur on page 124 of act 5 scene 2 when Emilia says “Moor, she was chaste... So speaking as I think, alas, I die.” (5.2, 246-248) In the scene, Emilia had come to the defense of Desdemona as she was trying to prove that she was innocent. Emilia had tried to expose Iago as the fraud that he was and the one who was behind this foolery which Iago responded to by stabbing her and running away. This seemed to be a panic move by Iago, which he may have started to regret after he had gotten caught, causing his silence. Emilia had wanted to make sure that Desdemona wouldn’t be viewed as the cheater she was being claimed to be, and before she died, she had convinced everyone of who Iago truly was which got him captured. As a result of his actions, Iago had lost his wife who he may or may not have had a love for, his career, and would now be punished for as long as he would live. It seemed as if he realized what was in store for him and didn’t have anything to say. His plan went right at first but went completely wrong towards the end. He understood the true extent of what he had done and how his life would be filled with punishment and sorrow. There was no going back and as a reader Iago looked to be in a state of anger and shock.

Considering all of Iago's manipulation and Othello's final speech it still doesn’t make up for the fact that Othello was wrong for committing murder on his wife Desdemona. Othello was continually told by his wife that she had committed no sin to him and he continually ignored her and believed Iago for his word. We see this shown in the text on page 116 when Desdemona claims “... No, be my life and soul… and ask him..” (5.2, 48-49) In the following scene Desdemona is trying to explain how she had no such affair that Othello claimed she had with Cassio however he didn’t believe her. Othello gave her no chance to explain and assumed that whatever Iago had stated/claimed was true which ultimately became his own enemy. He viewed only one side to the story which is the main reason why he shouldn’t be redeemed. He realizes his faults at the end which is the reason why he gives his speech. Unfortunately, he could not take back any of the sins he had committed and the life in hell that he was waiting.

In conclusion, Iago had stayed silent for three reasons which were to continue to torment Othello, a realization of what he had done and what was soon to come for him, and the fact that he had accomplished his goal which was to demolish Othello's life. Unfortunately for Iago, the worst is still to come as he will be punished for all the horrible acts he had done and shall spend the rest of his life in misery.

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The Reasons Iago Stayed Silent in Othello. (2022, Jun 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 3, 2024, from
“The Reasons Iago Stayed Silent in Othello.” Edubirdie, 16 Jun. 2022,
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