Iago is constantly associated with the word "honest." Shakespeare uses this adjective to describe Iago’s character. How does its use affect the reader?  

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Iago is thought to be an honest man by everybody in the play, including Othello, Desdemona, Cassio, Roderigo, and Iago's own wife Emilia, who is astonished when she realizes his terrible villainy. The reader or viewer knows the truth about Iago from the very beginning and throughout the play because he reveals his hatred of Othello to Roderigo and reveals his character in soliloquies. Each time the reader or viewers sees or hears the word "honest" applied to Iago, he or she feels a small shock of apprehension because the word is so inappropriate for such a ruthless, cunning, dangerous man. There is a terrible irony in the word every time it is used to describe Iago, and it is used very often throughout the play. Even after Othello has murdered Desdemona, he calls Iago "honest, honest Iago." Iago is a master villain who has somehow managed to conceal his true character from everyone.


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