“Othello” is a tragic play of jealousy, racism and struggle for power. Right from the beginning, Shakespeare has created vigorous dialogue and conflicting situations. There is a direct contrast between black and white in this play, with black meaning something negative and evil and white meaning pure and fairness. The clash between these two colours leads to severe hatred and enmity between a few people.
Othello is a black army general in the service of the Venetian government. Iago is Othello’s standard bearer. I think that Iago is the greater villain. Right from the beginning, because of his vicious and offensive language, we are made aware that Iago is a negative and evil character. Iago says about Othello:
“I hate the moor”. This is because Othello had given the promotion to somebody else. This also shows jealousy in Iago.
However, we believe that Othello is a respected and noble gentleman by the language that is used to describe him. He is referred to as “Valiant moor”.
Iago also stirs up trouble between Brabantio and Othello by suggesting that Othello has “robbed” him of his daughter. Iago also refers to Othello as an “old black ram”. This also shows he does not think of white and black people as equal. He thinks that black people are inferior.
However, even with all this trouble brewing, Othello manages to stay calm and collected andhe speaks in a dignified manner:
“Most potent, grave and reverend seigniors, my noble and approved good masters.” This shows he is very soft and courteous n his speech.
Iago is also shown to be very two faced. On one hand, he tells Brabantio that Othello has “robbed” him of his daughter and they are married. On the other hand, he is warning Othello that Brabantio will try to break up their marriage. He also tells him that Brabantio used offensive and insulting terms against him:
“Nay, but he prated and spoke such scurvy and insulting terms against your honour.” This shows that Iago is pretending to be a faithful officer, but all the while, plotting against him.
Iago also talks about Venetian women in an insulting manner:
“In Venice, they do let god see the pranks they dare not show their husbands.” This shows what kind of social background he has had and his low opinion of women.
Iago also has a very low opinion of his wife who is also a Venetian woman. He thinks she has slept with both cassio and Othello:
“It is thought abroad that the moor ‘twixt my sheets he’s done my office”/ “For I fear Cassio with my night cap too.” This goes to show that Iago is paranoid and insecure. This insecurity may be the reason he thinks of everyone in a negative light.
Iago also uses derogatory terms like “guinea hen” and “a fig”. Iago’s language is indecent and shows the corruption of his mind.
However, Othello has a very different culture and social background from Iago. Othello knows how to respect women and does not think lowly of them. His language is also powerful and dramatic and the...