Soliloquies used by Iago in Othello
Iago is a well known character in the play Othello, and he is a character that attracts a lot of attention. He has a deep hate for Othello and is often heard talking about what he intends to do to him. His motives and intentions for the evil and malicious acts he regularly performs are realized through his soliloquies. The audience is able to fully understand what Iago thinks about, in a clear manner (Shakespeare 1032). This paper seeks to give a critical analysis of how the soliloquies used by Iago are a representation of his real character.
The first soliloquy takes place upon the departure of Othello from Cyprus. It is here that Iago says that “And it is thought abroad, that ‘txit my sheets/ He has done my office” (1.3.388-389). From the statement it is evident that ‘abroad’ refers to everywhere. Also, the term ‘my office’, which is a function refers to the fact that Othello had sex with Iago’s wife in between his sheets. According to Iago, no one can deny the fact that everyone is right when they are talking about the scandal that is going on. People are claiming that Othello is sleeping around with Iago’s wife. However, when the play continues, the truth is revealed and there is no relationship between his wife and Othello (Zender 323). The two have no interest in each other, but Iago continues to lie because of his own selfish reasons. The truth does not matter to him because he does not change the attitude he has towards Othello.
Iago is a complex character to the point whereby, the audience cannot understand him well. The other characters believe that he is a trustworthy and honest character. However, after the soliloquy, his true character is revealed. Iago says that “Thus do I ever make my fool my purse, For I mine own gained knowledge should profane, if I would time expend with such snipe, but for my sport and profit” (1.3.386). The lines clearly prove that he does not intend to waste his time with a character such as Roderigo whom he considers to be a fool. The only reason why he associates with Roderigo is because of his own profit and gain (Shakespeare 1049). He is lucky enough to gain from the relationship because he takes advantage of others without caring about them.
The audience becomes aware of Iago’s nature and even refers to him as ‘Honest Iago’. On the other hand, the other characters in the play have no idea about his evil side. This can be seen in another soliloquy in Act I Scene 3 when Iago claims that “I hate Moor” (1.3.386). He keeps on repeating the sentence during the initial acts of the play. He has the vast hatred because he might be a racist. Iago keeps on using terms that are derogative when referring to Othello with words such as ‘old black rum’, ‘devil’ and ‘Barbary Horse’. Also, the fact that Cassio was given a better position than him by Othello is another reason for him using the word. In reality, the Moors are known to be honest and good people who do nothing but good (Zender 325). It is thus evident that Iago’s nature, as well as his words are those of an evil person pretending to be good natured.
Bevington, David. The Necessary Shakespeare. New York: Pearson Education, Inc, 2004.Print.
Zender, Karl. “The Humiliation of Iago”. Studies in English Literature 34 (1994):323-330.
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Othello. Literature Approaches to Fiction, Poetry and Drama. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2006. 1012-1095.