In Othello, William Shakespeare uses literary and stylistic devices such as imagery, symbolism, and antithesis to develop the state of mind of Othello during his active lifetime. On the other hand, Iago, the antagonist, finds himself in the act of oration, which brings out his inner feelings and whatever he has in mind concerning the other characters. In this case, the antagonist speaks his ideas and thoughts irrespective of the audience, which is an excellent way for the author to express how Iago feels in the play. His soliloquy occurs in Act II, Scene 3, where Iago is seen to be talking to himself in front of the audience. The author implements the use of rhetoric questions to emphasize the thoughts of Iago, “And what’s he then that says I play the villain?” (2.3.356). In this statement, the author illustrates the antagonist as a character who is full of pride and thinks that nobody would take him to be the villain. This paper aims to show how the soliloquy and other literary devices in Act II, Scene 3 of the play are used to reveal the author’s intent.
In Act II Scene 3, Iago, the antagonist, portrays himself as an honest man who advises for free. The author continues to portray Iago as a character-filled with envy towards the protagonist, Othello. Iago is very bitter and rants about Othello, who promotes Cassio to the rank of a lieutenant, although Cassio is inexperienced in battle. In this excerpt, Iago claims that Othello and Desdemona had made love which is not true. These allegations make Othello more vulnerable to Iago’s exploitations and manipulations, believing that Desdemona is unfaithful. Additionally, he says that how Cassio and Desdemona greeted each other was proof to show how she was interested in him.
The author employs the use of similes in his work. For example, “She’s framed as fruitful,” which is a direct comparison where Desdemona’s generosity equates to the abundance present in nature. Like what is given freely by nature, Desdemona’s generosity is available to whoever seeks it. Iago reiterates that Desdemona is very generous, meaning that she is unfaithful to the Moor. Further, Iago shows how racist he is when he says that Othello could even denounce his baptism. He insists that Desdemona would convince Othello to do so with a lot of ease, and this would be a sign of redemption from Othello’s sin. Therefore, this was a racist comment which proves that racism is a major theme in the play. Arguably, racism was one of the factors that made most of the citizens hate Othello for the tragedy that befalls him when he kills his wife.
Moreover, the author uses alliteration to stress and accentuate Desdemona’s good qualities. On the other hand, Iago is full of pessimism and perceives the good Desdemona’s good qualities as bad qualities. He exploits these characters, takes kindness for weakness, and propagates his evil dues against Othello’s wife, Desdemona. Further, Iago says that Othello is so much in love with Desdemona, and she could do to him whatever she wished. Therefore, she could easily make or break Othello a flaw he was willing to use to his advantage. Othello admits that Othello is a loving husband, and the relationship between Othello and Desdemona was a good one. Still, he believes that he should revenge on Othello, who he believes has had an affair with Emilia. Nevertheless, he plans on having Cassio demoted by poisoning Othello’s mind by telling lies, making him not think straight.
In addition to the above-mentioned literary devices, the author also uses dramatic irony and metaphors. When referring to Iago, the word “honest” is repeated severally, and Cassio’s ironic statements confirm the misguided opinion of Iago by the other characters. For instance, “divinity as hell” highlights the spiritual element of the play and further shows the role of Iago as a devil. It is a paradoxical statement as there should be no reference to divinity when speaking of hell. Further, the juxtaposition portrayed shows that hell is a good or divine place while, in reality, it is completely the opposite. Iago is pleased with his evil plans of destroying Othello. The use of repetition by the author brings out Iago’s thoughts and plans to destroy Othello. In his plans, he would talk to his wife into talking with Desdemona to ask Othello to reinstate Cassio back to his position. Then, he got Othello alone and led him to a private place where they found Cassio and Desdemona having a private conversation. Finally, it is worth noting that Iago’s primary goal is to destroy Othello other than being helpful. He achieves this goal through his manipulative and mischievous nature, which he executed skillfully. For example, Iago lies to everyone, which pushes people to positions in which they make fatal decisions. These manipulations cause fatalities to many people and humiliation and disgrace to himself in the long run.
William Shakespeare combines literary devices such as rhetorical questions, metaphors, repetition, dramatic irony, and persuasion to bring out the true nature of Iago. Iago’s enthusiasm for evil actions has not exactly revealed in the play. Iago lived a life full of racial discernment, especially because of his envious nature towards the Moor.