Critical Analysis of Iago's Soliloquy in Act 2 Scene 3 of Othello by William Shakespeare

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Critical Analysis of Iago's Soliloquy in Act 2 Scene 3 of Othello by William Shakespeare

Iago’s second soliloquy is very revealing. It shows him shaping a plan out of the confusion of his emotionally charged thoughts. Iago examines his own thoughts, especially his hatred for Othello: “The Moor, howbeit that I endure him not” He is also suffering from the “poisonous mineral” of jealousy that still swirls around the rumour that Othello has slept with Emilia. Iago could get his revenge by seducing Desdemona: “Now I do love her too … But partly led to diet my revenge, for that I do suspect the lusty Moor Hath leaped into my seat, the thought whereof doth like a poisonous mineral gnaw my inwards”.
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At the same time, his statements about what motivates him are hazy and confusing. Is he motivated by lust for Desdemona, envy of Cassio, or jealousy over his wife’s supposed affair with Othello? He even suggests that Cassio might also have slept with his wife. It is as though Iago mocks the audience for attempting to determine his motives; he treats the audience as he does Othello and Roderigo, leading his listeners “by th’ nose as asses are [led]”. For each of Iago’s actions within the play, he creates a momentary and unimportant justification possibly to please the audience.

The fifth (and last) appearance of "love" in Iago's soliloquy is most surprising. He will report Cassio's designs toward Othello's wife to Othello so that the Moor will "thank me, love me, and reward me." While some people see in Iago's plan to bring down Othello, his bitterness at Othello's rejecting him not only for a promotion but also sexually, I think that "love" in a non-sexual sense is even more powerful. The fact is that Iago loved Desdemona, not just out of "absolute lust". He probably envisioned some sort of three-way love relationship among Desdemona, Othello and Iago. When he didn't receive the promotion, Iago knew that the love he had envisioned was also impossible to attain. Iago's
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