We are introduced to the primary characters of the play. Iago feels slighted because Othello has
overlooked him for promotion in favour of Michael Cassio, while Roderigo believes that Othello is standing
in the way of his marriage to Desdemona. Together they plot their revenge.
WHAT TYPE OF MAN IS IAGO?
How do you rate Iago?
He comes across as a thoroughly despicable character, doesn't he? Right from the opening scene, his
language is filled with the crassest of language. Be able to find examples of this.
His description of Othello's relationship with Desdemona is absolutely appalling. Think of all the sexual
words which you would NEVER use in front of your mother and you have Iago: "Making the beast with
two backs", "an old black ram is tupping your white ewe", etc.
How many more can you find?
There was also very little reason for Iago wanting his revenge on Othello. We know he was insulted
because Othello chose Michael Cassio to be his lieutenant, denigrating Iago to the rank of "Ancient"
-- i.e. an ensign or aide-de-camp -- which would mean that he was now third in command.
At another time, Iago spoke of a rumour that his own wife, Emilia, had been unfaithful to him by having
sex with Othello. There was, however, absolutely no substantiation for this rumour. Indeed, Iago
confessed that he himself did not believe it but he nevertheless intended to act as if it was true.
Eventually, Iago personally kills Roderigo (supposedly his friend), attempts to kill Cassio and murders his
own wife when he realises that she knows too much and is about to spill the beans.
What type of man is this?
And, by the way, please pronounce his name correctly. People love to say "Eye-Ay-Go" whereas
it should be pronounced "Yargo". The "I" in the Latin languages is pronounced as if it is a
Have you looked at the questions
in the right column?
Read the left column and then answer
the following questions:
Fill in the missing words:
Roderigo has given vast sums of money to 1._________ who promised to arrange his marriage to
Desdemona. Iago says that he hates Othello, because he did not promote him to the position of lieutenant
but, instead, appointed 2._________.
Roderigo loudly tells 3._________ that at that very moment 4._________ is making love to Desdemona
and he will soon be the grandfather of 5.________.