Iago When Shakespeare attempted to create the ultimate villain (and I must say he was stunningly successful), Iago was the result. This cunningly evil character always keeps the audience guessing at his true personality until he has the opportunity to plan in solitude or so gracefully manipulate an inferior intellect that he can let his true colors shine while preserving his “image”. Such is the case in act I, scene III, when he recites to Roderigo a beautifully worded speech revealing his true feelings about life, love, and Othello. This near-soliloquy shows us some of the thinking behind Iago’s Machiavellian actions. 320 Virtue! a fig! ‘Tis in ourselves are we thus or thus.Our bodies are gardens, to which our wills are gardeners; so that if we plant nettles or sow lettuce, set hyssop and weed up thyme, supply it with one gender of herbs or distract it with 325 many, either to have it sterile with idleness or manured with industry, why, the power and corrigible authority of this lies in our wills. If the balance of our lives had not one scale of reason to poise another of sensuality, the blood and baseness of our natures would conduct us to the most 330 preposterous conclusions. But we have reason to cool our raging motions, our carnal stings, our umbitted lusts, wherof I take this that you call love to be a sect or scionIt is merely a lust of the blood and a permission of the will.
Come, be a man. Drown thyself? Drown cats and blind 335 puppies.I profess me thy friend, and I confess me knit to thy deserving with cables of perdurable toughness. I could never better stead thee than now. Put money in thy purse.
Follow these wars; defeat thy favour with an usurped beard I say, put money in thy purse. It cannot be that Desdemona 340 should long continue her love unto the Moor,-Put money in thy purse,-nor he his to her. It was a violent commencement, and thou shalt see an answerable sequestration.
Put but money in thy purse. These Moors are changeable in their wills. Fill thy purse with money. The 345 food that to him now is as luscious as locusts, shall be to him shortly acerb as the coloquintida. (She must change for youth.
) The main point behind the first section of the “soliloquy” in line 320 is that humans make their destinies and rules (Virtue! a fig! ‘Tis in ourselves that we are thus or thus ln.320). Our friendly villain uses a metaphor relating a garden to our lives, and gardeners to our independent wills (Our bodies are gardens, to which our wills are gardeners ln 321). This view on life has many hidden insights into the character of Iago. First among these is that Iago believes that god is a faade created by people with no heart. The quotes that back this up are: ‘Tis in ourselves ln 320, corrigible authority of this lies in our wills ln 327 If the balance of our lives ln 328, and love to be a sect or scion.ln.
333. We can tell by the connotations of the words Iago uses that he does not consider god to be a motivating force in the lives of humans. Take, for instance, the use of the words sect and balance; these words normally refer to religion, and god as a major force in the balance of a person’s life, but Iago uses them to refer to our own decisions, playing down god’s importance. Secondly, he believes that people who do not get ahead in life and live to get everything possible are suckers.This conclusion is backed up by two major statements: sterile with idleness ln 323 and one gender of herbs ln 322. The images these words call up in our minds are desolate and pitiful gardeners either being just plain lazy, or trying to just scoot by.
These quotes also show what a highly motivated person Iago is. When Iago concludes his tirade about our bodies being gardens, we get an extreme look into his demented psyche (May I say it is not a pretty sight). Iago’s view about love are not much better than his opinions about other people’s “gardens”. As Iago begins to slander the wedding of Othello and Desdemona he has, and uses, many opportunities to also slander against love, and the Moorish race. One such quote is These Moors are changeable in their wills.Fill thy purse with money. The food that to him now is as luscious as locusts, shall be to him shortly acerb as the coloquintida.
ln. 346. The word choice here, as always in the case of Iago, carries a hidden double meaning. When he compares Desdemona to food, Iago is insulting three different things: the reasons for Othello’s marriage, women in general (comparing them to food, used only for a man’s pleasure), and the entire Moorish race, saying that they are barbarians, who do not know how to treat women. When looking at the character of Iago, always look for connotations, and hidden meanings in the words he chooses (manured with industry ln 323), and dig deeper to acquire the true picture of Iago, and as these quotes are only a few of the warped philosophies Iago has about life. There are no more shown in this soliloquy, but one has wonder, what will happen in the next scene.