Act 2 Scene 1
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Though Iago is married, he does not have as favorable an impression of women as Cassio does. Women are "wildcats in your kitchens, saints in your injuries, devils being offended"; he even declares that they "rise to play, and go to bed to work" (109-13). Iago's perception of women as deceptive, dominating, and lusty colors the way he portrays both Emilia and Desdemona; both are good women, Desdemona exceedingly so, yet he is able to convince other men that they are anything but what they are.
"My invention comes from my pate as birdlime does from frieze," Iago says, though his analogy misrepresents his quick wit and subtle intelligence. Iago misrepresents himself throughout the play as honest, faithful, good-hearted, and here, as both foolish and jocular. Misrepresentation is a theme which misleads many characters, and allows Iago, and Othello to some extent, to appear as other than what they are. But even as he minces words with Desdemona, he is observing her and Cassio, and plotting how to make a fictional affair between them look convincing. "With as little a web as this I will ensnare as great a fly as Cassio," he says; indeed, the simile speaks truly of his intent, and of his true powers of "invention". "I'll set down the pegs that make this music," he says of Desdemona and Othello's harmonious union, another metaphor betraying his villainy.
Misrepresentation is a theme that surfaces often through Iago's villainy; already, he makes Desdemona seem like a fickle, lusty woman, which he will soon try to convince Othello of as well. Iago's speech also plays on Othello's insecurities perfectly; he speaks of Othello's age, race, and manners as reasons why Desdemona will grow tired of him, which are also reaons why Othello fears he might lose her. Iago is also a master of temptation, another theme in the story; he is able to figure out exactly what people want, and then drive them to it. Use of language, a major theme in the story, is also a point on which Iago is notable. He is able to persuade Roderigo of Cassio and Desdemona's attachment, by painting an innocent gesture as a sign of familiarity; yet, all the power that is in his words is in their interpretation, for Iago is also able to say everything and nothing at once, depending on the inclination of the hearer.
Though Iago seems grieved by Cassio's promotion over him, this does not seem to be his main, or only, motive. Iago mentions the promotion to Roderigo, to convince him that he hates Othello; but Iago also cites his suspicions that Emilia and Othello have had an affair as another reason for his enmity. But, at the same time, Iago is not a man to be consumed with sexual jealousy; though rumors about his wife may hurt his pride, they seem but an excuse for the misery he is about to cause. Iago's motives could be all of these reasons and more, or they could be none; indeed, Shakespeare leaves the root of Iago's malignancy unexplained, while showing the fruits of his evil in full.
Iago thinks that Cassio seduced his wife, Doth, like a poisonous mineral, gnaw my inwards,And nothing can or shall content my soulTill I am evened with him, wife for wife...." That's pretty much the new info. Iago wants revenge on both Othello and Cassio!
Iago thinks that Cassio seduced his wife, "Doth, like a poisonous mineral, gnaw my inwards,And nothing can or shall content my soulTill I am evened with him, wife for wife...." That's pretty much the new info. Iago wants revenge on both Othello and Cassio!