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Othello, Act Ii, Scene Iii, Lines 14 33: Sinister Repartee

691 words - 3 pages

The dialogue between Cassio and Iago discussing Desdemona is short and seemingly meaningless. But the way each of them describes Desdemona and the way the two men’s statements mesh together reflect significantly both on their respective characters and on the insidious nature of Iago’s vengeance.
On the one hand, Cassio describes Desdemona with highly polished and refined imagery. A well-to-do Florentine lieutenant, Cassio is a member of the upper class, and his highbrow language demonstrates that very well. When Desdemona arrives at Cyprus, Cassio claims that “the riches of the ship is come on shore.” (II, i, 92) Here, he states variously that Desdemona is “a most exquisite lady,” “a most fresh and delicate creature,” and that “she is indeed perfection.” His lush language emphasizes Desdemona’s purity and innocence and thereby makes him seem both noble and gentlemanly. Earlier, Iago stated his suspicions that Cassio has romantic feelings for Desdemona; that may or may not be true, since Iago’s perspective is not objective. Regardless of any existent or nonexistent feelings, however, his genteel language and descriptions of her as someone who “paragons description and wild fame” (II, i, 68) and who “excels the quirks of blazoning pens” (II, i, 68) certainly reveal what is a high-minded, idealistic view of romance similar to that of Othello.
Iago has consistently used extremely boorish and crude language throughout the play, and here he is no different. He says that Desdemona is “sport for Jove,” and that her eye is “a parley to provocation.” Given that Iago has previously made such strong statements as “when she is sated with his [Othello’s] body she will find the error of her choice,” (I, iii, 394) that he continues to use such sexually suggestive imagery here is unsurprising. We have already seen that he views love in a very visceral, physically-oriented light, and that he objectifies both the pursuit of women and romance in general; his words here only confirm that. Moreover, the fact that Iago...

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