How might an audience respond to the character of Iago?

Essay by Rochelle22High School, 10th grade August 2007

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Elizabeth I, a strong female leader, was on the throne at the time Shakespeare was writing the play ‘Othello’. It was the 17th century and England was heading towards the end of a Renaissance, explorers were discovering new countries which lead to the rebirth of English literature, art and culture. The English language increased immensely, as new words were being added to the vocabulary. Now, at this time, the printing press took over and learning exploded; people became more literate, ideas changed and people now had access to culture, art, theatre and books. In the 17th century, it was believed that women were inferior to men. Women were perceived as creatures that lacked reason, that were ruled by their emotions and were also seen as sexual temptresses.

In this essay I’m going to discuss how an audience might respond to the character of Iago. The play ‘Othello’ illustrates themes of sexism, racism and jealousy, which are all shown in Iago.

Iago is a soldier for the Venetian army. We first meet him in the heat of an argument with Roderigo. Our first impressions of Iago, is that he is untrustworthy and selfish. ‘I follow him to serve my turn upon him.’ Iago pretends to serve Othello but uses it for his own purposes. He is also revealed as two faced. ‘I am not what I am.’ Iago also swears by Janus, a two faced god, who he identifies with. ‘By Janus, I think no.’ Janus gave January its name as it’s the only month that looks forward to the New Year and looks back on the old.

Most of the play is in blank verse but when Iago speaks to Roderigo it changes into prose, to show that Roderigo is a common character. Othello uses...