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Consider the Different Interpretations of Lago as a Tragic Villain at the End of the Play

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Iago plays an extremely important and major function in the tragedy of Othello. The audience are aware of the typical characteristics of a tragedy, where a protagonist is brought to ruin or otherwise suffers the extreme consequences of some tragic flaw or weakness of character. However by the end of the play, many believe that Iago is in fact directly responsible for the deaths of Roderigo, Emilia and the protagonist and his love. Iago is a character that undoubtedly creates grief, frustration and animosity throughout the play, causing the audience to feel either contempt or awe for his incredible ingenuity. This continues at the end of the play when Iago's conspiracies are discovered by the rest of the characters, who finally realise the villain that they have perceived to be a loyal and "honest" companion. The way in which Iago reacts to the events (that he had strived to cause) has been widely interpreted, and it is in the final scene that the audience are made to contemplate their ideas of Iago as tragic villain.

Act 5, Scene 2 begins with the final conversation between Othello and Desdemona, where Othello confronts his wife about his irrevocable feelings of her affair with Cassio. Othello explains to the bewildered Desdemona:

"By heaven I saw the handkerchief in's hand.

O perjured woman, thou dost stone my heart"

Othello reveals to Desdemona his proof of her infidelity and therefore the reason that he is sure enough of his suspicions to murder her. The hyperbole he uses here implies that the lies he believes his wife to be telling, deprives him of the little remorse and compassion he had left. Furthermore, when Emilia is made aware of Desdemona's death, she begins to interrogate Othello and prove that he has made a terrible mistake. She reveals, "That handkerchief thou speak'st of.. my husband begged of me to steal it" It is here that both the remaining characters and audience are made aware of Iago's treachery and how his actions were pivotal in the murder of Desdemona and the overall downfall of Othello.

Additionally, the audience immediately notice differences between the Iago they have witnessed earlier in the play and the one that appears in the final scene.

Throughout the play Iago impresses the audience with lengthy, eloquent speeches, particularly in his soliloquies. However, it seems that after Desdemona's death Iago reverts to blunt responses. This may come to a surprise to the audience, who would have expected Iago to produce fluent, arrogant responses in order to accentuate to the others how he successfully fooled each and every one of them. However, Othello questions the "demi-devil" Iago, "Why he hath this ensnared my soul and body?" In response to this, Iago states "from this time forth I will never speak a word." Iago refuses to give his victims the satisfaction



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