William Shakespeare has many ways of illustrating his characters through way of dialogue and language patterns. This is his trademark and it is his ultimate strategy for drawing his reader closer, until they are completely immersed in his play. In Othello we see that a character like Iago has been given a very rough and coldhearted aura about him, which in time shows us as readers how cruel he really is. On the contrary Othello himself is rather noble in his speech, but overall just as clever.
These characters are clever in their own separate ways: Othello in living a double life of both war and love (which seems to keep him tied to the battlefield, a danger zone) and Iago is clever in his ways of manipulating an entire lot of people to get what he wants. Any excerpt from the play Othello shows how clever Shakespeare is in his own ways, writing traits that cannot be ignored. A good example of witty Shakespearean playwriting is in the opening Act of Othello- Act I, Scene i. , pg. 78-92.
The use of language in this Scene is so classic- for example the way Iago and Roderigo play off of each other in speech. Their goal in the middle of the night is to wake Brabantio (Desdemona’s father) and tell him of the extravagant affair between Othello and her daughter. In the streets of Venice these men holler their way up to his chambers, arising him to the balcony. Shakespeare’s choice of speech is so affective, and so perfect.
Roderigo: Signor (a question of his authority), is all your Family within? Iago: Are your Doors locked? Instigating panic) Roderigo/Iago:I. i. 87-89] Shakespeare’s choice of words here is beautiful in its shrewdness, and in so many ways affective. Iago in particular seems to push the situation, and operate the conversation as he always does. He goes on to tell Brabantio his state of confusion and in many ways hypnotize the poor man. Your heart is burst, you have lost half your soulan old black Ram is tupping your white Ewe. [Iago:I. i. 89-91] Shakespeare gives Iago’s character such filth, such a stench in the air about him that you can smell it while reading.
Here is a character in Othello that is hard to understand, and there have been many views taken on his role. One critic brings up how inconsistent Iago is, and how he sometimes even goes against his own ethics. He comes off as concerned, certainly not as the insensitive bastard he is. He is a wonderfully crafted character, and astounding even by Shakespeare’s standards. If thou dost deliver more or less than Truth, Thou are no Soldier. [Iago: II. iii. 219-20] The audience of Shakespeare is always well informed about the characters because he uses language and dialogue to describe their goals.
In a separate work by another play writer one might get caught in the distinguishing of good/bad characters, but here each one states their cause on a personal level. Guessing will always be a useful tool in figuring out a particular character, but I find that Shakespeare often dangles answers right in front of the reader’s nose. Othello is the exception in this book, a passionate man who acts most graciously towards others. He is the ultimate mirror image of Iago, but seems comfortable with marking his territory.
In conversation he gently persuades those who challenge him as a man and a lover. Othello: Most potent, grave, and reverend Signors, My very noble, and approv’d good Masters What conjuration, and what mighty Magick, (for such proceedings am I charg’d withal) I won his Daughter. A critic on this scene writes: “… all this but Preamble, to tell the Court what he wants in words. ” They go on to say how Othello had a strategy of his own, and how in this entire scene he is grabbing the ear of the Court.
His eloquence is what keeps them up all night, and in the midst of their alarms draws their attention. These characters are only two examples of how Shakespeare uses language to tell his stories and in a form manipulate you into getting caught in his web. A critic writes(on the subject of all characters): “-to entertain the audience with something new and surprising, against common sense, and Nature, he would pass upon us close; dissembling, false, insinuating rascal, instead of an open-hearted, frank, plain-dealing Soldier, a character worn by them for some thousands of years in the World.
Nor is our Poet more discreet in his Desdemona, he had chosen a soldier for his knave: And a Venetian Lady is to be the fool. ” Certainly, Shakespeare leaves himself wide open in creating such a wide variety of characters. He ranges from Iago, the most putrid- to Desdemona, the faithful wife. The language of William Shakespeare tells us so many things, and keeps us as an audience, right between his fingers- tamely like puppets, with all ears listening.