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What is significant in this quote ? IAGO: I follow him to serve my turn upon him:...

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katarinazichy | (Level 1) Honors

Posted November 5, 2013 at 6:28 PM via web

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What is significant in this quote ?


I follow him to serve my turn upon him:
We cannot all be masters, nor all masters
Cannot be truly follow'd. You shall mark
Many a duteous and kneecrooking knave,
That doting on his own obsequious bondage
Wears out his time, much like his master's ass,
For naught but provender; and, when he's old, cashier'd. Whip me such honest knaves. Others there are,

Who, trimm'd in forms and visages of duty,
Keep yet their hearts attending on themselves,
And throwing but shows of service on their lords
Do well thrive by them; and when they have lined their coats
Do themselves homage. These fellows have some soul, And such a one do I profess myself.
For, sir,
It is as sure as you are Roderigo,
Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago.
In following him, I follow but myself;
Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,
But seeming so, for my peculiar end.
For when my outward action doth demonstrate
The native act and figure of my heart
In complement extern, 'tis not long after
But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
For daws to peck at: I am not what I am. 

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coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted November 5, 2013 at 7:13 PM (Answer #1)

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This speech in the play 'Othello' by William Shakespeare is signifacnt because it is very revealing and tells us something of Iago's real self - not the one he puts on show to the world and to his master. He is telling Roderigo all about his plan to con Othello and to make gains from what the ever sharply observant servant sees as his weaknesses. He does not credit people with much intelligence who wander around being themselves all the time. The old saying about wearing hearts on sleeves means showing your true emotions to the world at all times - this Iago will never do. Even though he is sharing with us, and with Iago, he still speaks in riddles and in a very oblique style :

 “I am not what I am”  

builds suspense as it hooks the audience - we feel a sense of threat and intrigue wondering what Iago will do. We now know that it is just a matter of time before the seemingly obsequious Iago gets his own back on Othello and serves his 'turn upon him.'


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