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What are the four important soliloquies in Othello and what do they mean?

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courtnie | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 9, 2007 at 9:54 AM via web

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What are the four important soliloquies in Othello and what do they mean?

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 10, 2007 at 12:58 AM (Answer #1)

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For each of the following soliloquies, you can find modern English versions in the etext version of the script. For now, I'm just giving a capsule summary.

One comes at the end of Act I, scene 3. It is Iago alone on stage, and he spells out the meaning quite clearly: he hates Othello, and here is why.

One comes at the end of Act II, scene 1. Again, it is Iago alone on stage, and he spells out his plans for Cassio, and what he really thinks is the case (and will happen).

One comes in Act III, scene 3. Again, it is Iago alone on stage. This time he plans out what he'll do with the handkerchief (a key plot element).

Another comes in Act IV, scene 1. After Othello falls into his trance, Iago is alone on stage, and plans to talk to Bianca (another plot point).

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 18, 2014 at 2:04 AM (Answer #2)

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In the soliloquy in Act I, scene iii, lines 320-341, Iago lays out his plan for revenging himself on the Moor. He has just convinced Roderigo to continue pursuing Desdemona, despite her marriage to the Moor, because Iago argues she'll soon grow tired of the Moor and want a younger man. He advices Roderigo to sell all his land so he has enough money to follow Desdemona and Othello to the wars where Roderigo can court Desdemona. Judging by the first few lines in the soliloquy in question, it would also appear that Iago plans to con Roderigo out of money in some way:
Thus do I ever make my fool my purse.
For I mine own gained knowledge should profane
If I would time expend with such a snipe
But for my sport and profit. (lines 320-323)

In the above, Iago is saying that he always manages to con money out of fools and that he would be wasting his talents in helping a fool like Roderigo if Iago didn't financially profit from it.

From there, Iago continues to profess how much he hates Othello and to speak of the rumor that Othello has seduced Iago's own wife. Due to this rumor, as well as other reasons, Iago feels justified in revenging himself on Othello.

Next, he begins to plot in what way he can make use of Cassio. Iago argues that since Cassio is good looking and charming and Othello is very trusting, it will be very easy for Iago to convince Othello that Cassio is seducing Desdemona.

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