This passage fromthe last scene of Act 1 is significant in the way that it outlines the majordetails for Iago’s plot, a deadly plot that brings about the death of severalcharacters including Desdemona and Othello. It also portrays an image of Iago’s character.
This soliloquy is in the form of blank verse, afeature often found in Shakespearean plays. The impact that this figure of speech brings about is noteworthy. It conveys a deadly scheme of revenge anddestruction through plain and common speech, albeit including many metaphors,further emphasizing the ruthlessness of Iago’s character.
Although the character mostly attributed with jealousyin this play is Othello, this passage serves to point out Iago’s immensecapacity of jealousy as well. While atthe beginning of the play Iago announces that Othello’s decision of promotingCassio in his place was what primarily fueled his mind to come up with hisscheme, the passage shows how revenge was an equally strong motive. Iago suspects both Othello and Cassio ofsleeping with his wife, and even without the presence of absolute proof, plansto put Othello in “a jealousy so strong that judgement cannot cure” while withCassio he schemes to “abuse him to the Moor in the rank garb.” What is striking is that Iago is fully awarethat his actions are not brought about from a sense of justice but rather frompurely evil intentions. “Thoughperadventure I stand accountant for as great a sin.” Iago realizes that what he is planning tocommit is just as great a sin as lusting after another’s wife, something whichhe clearly disapproves of, outlining his paradoxical nature. This portrayal of Iago is incredibly accurateall throughout the play, never for a single moment does Iago show the slightestsign of remorse or guilt.
Iago seeks a balance between figurative andnon-figurative speech in his soliloquy, and this serves to present him as a manwho is fairly clear minded and rational, who also possesses an eloquent mannerof dialogue which turns out to be incredibly effective in deceivingOthello. “make the Moor thank me, loveme, and reward me, for making him egregiously an ass.” Iago uses much imagery and metaphoricallanguage: he uses the terms “hath leaped into my seat” and “with my night cap”to convey his suspicion of his wife’s faithfulness and also terms such as “poortrash of Venice” and “a poisonous mineral gnaw my inwards” to describe Othelloand the thought of him lying with his wife. Above all things, such figurative speech heightens Iago’s hatred for allthe things that he suspects and motivates his desire for revenge, much as withthe case of Othello, who gradually sinks into the pit of jealousy largely dueto Iago’s vivid description of Desdemona’s unfaithfulness.
In conclusion, this passage serves mainly to bringIago’s scheme and his methods to light, while also outlining his evilnature. It also heightens Iago’scapability of strong and effective language, his main weapon for implementinghis plan and the destruction of several characters.