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What is the significance of Iago's final line: “Demand me nothing. What you know, you...

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rgawronski | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted March 12, 2013 at 8:43 PM via web

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What is the significance of Iago's final line: “Demand me nothing. What you know, you know. / From this time forth I never will speak word.”

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 12, 2013 at 10:56 PM (Answer #1)

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With this final line, Iago is saying that he will not reveal anything about his plot that his wife Emilia has not already revealed. Othello has just confessed to murdering his wife and conspiring to have Cassio murdered. When Cassio points out that he never did anything to Othello to justify this, Othello agrees, and encourages Cassio and Lodovico to ask the "demi-devil" Iago about his role in the proceedings. With this quote, Iago swears not to reveal his plot. To this, Gratiano replies that "torment shall ope your lips," meaning that Iago will be put to torture to get him to speak, and this is an important point. On the one hand, many have suggested that Iago does not receive justice at the end of the play, whereas Othello, Emilia, and Desdemona die. But this line suggests Iago is destined to live out however few days he has left in agony and shame. But it also allows Iago not to reveal the real reason for his horrible plot, which many commentators have surmised, goes well beyond redressing the small indignity of being passed over for promotion by the Moor.


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