In Othello, how is the contrast in the characters of Othello and Iago expressed and developed through their use of language?

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shannonsuddath eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare crafts the characters to reflect each in their current state as the play progesses. Othello, in the beginning, reveals himself to be eloquent, respectful, and very much in control of himself. He weighs his words carefully, and his eloquence reflect both his opinion of himself and the esteem in which Venice holds him. See Act I.ii-iii for examples. Iago reveals his true character from the outset of the play, speaking in base terms as he wakes Brabantio with images of animals copulating to refer to Othello and Desdemona's marriage. As the play progresses, there is a tangible shift in Othello's language as he slowly begins to mirror Iago's language, especially concerning women, and Othello unravels at each of Iago's innuendos. The height of which is when Othello, choking Desdemona on her wedding sheets, calls her a strumpet as she begs for her life.

eaglecat eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The difference in their diction alone sets them apart.  The words they speak highlight their characters.  Iago's words are manipulative and vague,  whereas Othello's honest and pointed remarks demand respect and awe.  For more on Othello, check out the website below.