Commentary on Iago's first soliloquy

Topics: IagoOthello

Towards the end of Act 1 in Shakespear’s Othello, we come across a significant soliloquy recited by an important character in the play, Iago. Throughout the play, Shakespear has used Iago as a working force towards the plot. The whole plot of the novel revolves around this character and what he plans to do next, and this seems clear by the end of Act 1. Thus, Shakespear providing the audience with Iago’s soliloquies is like giving an overview of the what is about to happen, creating a clear picture in the audiences’ heads and then working towards it, and also a deep insight into Iago’s character, and his point of view of how things are shaping out.

Prior to Iago’s first soliloquy, Iago has convinced Roderigo, who had seemed so sure of failure that he was planning on committing suicide, that he is going to get what he wants as long as he keeps paying Iago. Here, we see Iago’s manipulative skills at work.

Even though Iago has failed in an attempt to hurt Othello, he is determined to get what he wants, and that’s how he conjures up another brilliant plan in his soliloquy. This time, he plans on using Michael Cassio, who is like his rival as he received the promotion instead of Iago. Iago is going to create a picture in Othello’s head that Cassio is too close to his wife, Desdemona, and that they are having an affair. In this manner, Iago will have caused enough damage to Othello’s relationship with Desdemona, and hence Othello, and since Othello would have fired Cassio from his position, he would have no choice but to employ Iago.

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According to his plan, he will steal Cassio’s place too, and cause pain to Othello, whom he hates.

In Shakepear’s portrayal of the characters in the play, Iago seems to have all of the forces to be working towards him. Due to this, Iago’s plan seems to be inevitable. Iago is able to derive his purpose from all the people in society. He hates Michael Cassio as he took the promotion that Iago was supposed to have, and thus in his plan he is both going to use him against the Moor and get him fired from his military status. This plan of Iago’s becomes a much easier task because of Cassio’s personality. Cassio, as mentioned in Iago’s soliloquy, is a well mannered and handsome man, who would be the perfect man to cause jealousy and suspicion to any husband. This is seen in Iago’s folloqing quote, “He hath a person and a smooth dispose To be suspected, framed to make a woman false.”

Apart from Cassio, Iago hates the Moor (Othello) too, and hence his plan’s main focus is to cause Othello pain. The task of misguiding Othello into believing false stories about Desdemona and breaking his relationship with her is made easier for Iago because of the straightforwardness of Othello. He believes whatever appears to him, and hardly questions or suspects anything appearing right to him. Iago says in his soliloquy that, “The Moor is of free and open nature, That thinks men honest that but seem to be so, And will as tenderly be led by the nose As assess are.” This basically means that Iago, who as we have witnessed already as a master of manipulation, will have no difficulty in misguiding and manipulating Othello the way he wants to. Here in this quote Iago also makes a simili of Othello with an ass, which shows Iago’s feelings towards Othello. Similarly, Iago makes another simili of Roderigo, who has been giving money to Iago for Iago’s help in aquiring Desdemona, with a snipe, which is a long-billed bird, used as a symbol for worthlessness. Here also, we see the character of Roderigo from the point of Iago, and he has also been used by Iago as a source of profit.

The most important advantage for Iago of all, is of course his reputation among all the people. All the people in Venice ironically think of Iago as one of the most honest and loyal people in the military staff, and hence everybody respects Iago’s word the most and his views the most. Due to this, Iago will be easily able to manipulate Othello. This knowledge is known to Iago as he states in his soliloquy, “He holds me well: The better shall my purpose work upon him.”

With all these things working in Iago’s favour, it seems likely for Iago;s plan to work. Hence here Shakespeare seems to portray that all the forces are working for the evil

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Commentary on Iago's first soliloquy. (2019, Jan 08). Retrieved from

Commentary on Iago's first soliloquy
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