How does Shakespeare use Iago in Othello to help portay women negatively and bring about a tragic collapse within the play' Othello'?misogynist values of the early 17th century

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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Iago has a fundamental disrespect for women and is convinced that they are, or will be, disloyal. When discussing the marriage of Othello to Desdemona with the lovelorn Roderigo in Act I scene iii, Iago says that she will soon tire of her new husband-

 Shee must change for youth; when she is sated with his
body, she will find the error of her choice. She must have
change, she must.

One of the reasons he gives for his hatred of Othello is that there has been rumor that he has slept with Iago’s wife, Emilia-

I hate the Moor;
And it is thought abroad that 'twixt my sheets
He has done my office.

Iago admits that there is little evidence for this, but the suspicion alone is enough to anger him to seek retribution-

 I know not if't be true;
But I for mere suspicion in that kind
Will do as if for surety.

 In Act II scene I, Iago engages in saucy banter with Emilia and Desdemona, using his prejudices against women to mock them-

 Come on, come on. You are pictures out of doors,
Bells in your parlors, wildcats in your kitchens,
Saints in your injuries, devils being offended,
Players in your housewifery, and housewives in your

His most offensive line is delivered in rhyme

 Nay, it is true, or else I am a Turk:
You rise to play, and go to bed to work.

Here Iago condemns both women as prostitutes. He returns to this slander at the end of the play when he tries to silence Emilia from revealing his evil plot.The jovial banter is chillingly echoed with real venom by Iago as Emilia reveals Iago’s wicked deception –

Villainous whore!










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