Iago of William Shakespeare's Othello
There are many examples of animal imagery throughout Shakespeare's
Othello that are used by the characters in the play both innocently
and with the intent to cause harm. Shakespeare uses imagery in Othello
to emphasize several of the themes that are found in the play,
including reality vs. appearance and good vs. evil. The imagery of
people as beasts is strongly introduced in the first scene of Act I,
and is thereafter found fairly evenly throughout the rest of the play,
maintaining the mood that people are little more then animals, acting
on their primal urges.
Many of the bestial images are used by Iago in reference to Othello.
He is determined to expose Othello for the beast he is by "bringing
this monstrous birth to light" (1.3.395). In the first scene of the
play, Iago claims that he dislikes Othello for promoting Cassio over
himself and later claims that he suspects that Othello has slept with
his wife, and uses these as excuses to seek revenge on Othello to
prove that he is an animal unworthy of Desdemona. In reality, however,
Iago's true motives are for his own evil pleasure and in this pursuit
of "joy, pleasance, revel, and applause transform[s] [himself] into
[a] beast" (2.3.291).
Iago makes his feelings known for Othello in the first scene of Act I,
when he and Roderigo tell Brabantio that the "old black ram [was]
tupping [his] white ewe" and that with his daughter "covered with a
Barbary horse", his grandchildren "will neigh to [him]" (1.1.85;
1.1.108). Iago quickly angers Desdemona's father with his vivid
bestial images and it is here that we realize the depth of Iago's
Iago knows the Moor to be an honest and trusting man, who takes people
at face value, believing they are honest if they appear that way. Iago
sees this as a weakness and thinks Othello can "as tenderly be led by
th' nose / as asses are" (1.3.392-393). Iago also knows of Othello's
strong obsession with justice and honor and sees these qualities as a
means to manipulate the Moor into murdering Desdemona and thus
exposing him as a beast.
Iago begins his evil work by...