William Shakespeare: Othello. Analyse Vers 154 – 212

Presentation / Essay (Pre-University), 2000

6 Pages, Grade: 1



1. How can Iago’s understanding of “a good name” be explained?

2. How can Iago’s understanding of jealousy be explained?

3. How does Othello react to this?

4. How, and why, does Iago discredit Desdemona?

5. Iago here presents himself as a kind of friendly instructor. How is this refleted in his language?

6. Plot structure

7. Themes

8. Conflicts

9. Iago’s intrigues

10. Iago’s strategies

11. Othello’s character

12. Tragedy

1. How can Iago’s understanding of “a good name” be explained?

In this text Iago explains Othello his understanding of „a good name“. The essential meaning of this phrase one can express in the synonym „reputation“. A reputation is something, which one cannot buy with money. So logically, a reputation is more worthwhile than a fortune. Iago formulates it indirectly: “who steals my purse, steals trash; ” (v. 156). He rather compares the reputation with a precious jewel: “Good name, …, is the immediate jewel of their souls.” (v. 154 - 155).

Besides Iago points out that stealing a good name does not actually make you rich. But whom the reputation has been stolen from becomes very poor (cf. v. 158 - 160). To the beginning of the text I want to add that with his explanation of “a good name” Iago makes a successful insinuation, which wakes Othello’s interest without delay. It is evident that Iago refers to Othello’s reputation, even though he never would have said this. Othello cannot wait (“By heaven, I’ll know thy thoughts.” v. 160), but he also sees himself in Iago’s hand. He as the general cannot handle this. So the only thing he answers is “Ha!” (v.163).

Othello finds himself in a wild storm of thoughts and feelings. There is for example his fear, raised doubts, unproved suspicions, jealousy, love, longing for faith and security … So after all this he is blind but glad to have a true friend: Iago! “I am bound to thee for ever.” (v. 211).

2. How can Iago’s understanding of jealousy be explained?

In his dialogue with Othello Iago also presents his point of view about the meaning of jealousy. All his remarks conclude a strong warning. He says that jalousy is able to ridicule a man. Here Iago also uses a nice metaphor: “It is the green-eyed monster, …” (v. 164). Indeed this metaphor is very impressing. It is well chosen, because green is the symbolic colour of jealousy.

Furthermore Iago explains what different roles jealousy can play in a man’s life: First he says a man, who does not know that his wife deceives him, can be lucky. But secondly, when a man who’s love has stopped when he gets to know for certain that his wife has a relationship with somebody else, he can also be happy. But damned is the man in whom the suspicion of sexual infidelity has fanned!

3. How does Othello react to this?

Othello is of a loyal, noble and true nature. Besides he trusts Iago. So he points and out what he really thinks. Referring to Iago’s explanation of jealousy he behaves frightened and sensitively. That comes out in his short remark: “O misery!” (v. 169). But then he relates this explanation to his own life and he is unable to imagine jealousy is coming in there! Othello has not experienced yet what power jealousy can have. So he does not believe that he himself can be so weak. He thinks of jealousy as such an exotic feeling that he dies not imagine it can influence him in any way.

Another point is that he loves and trusts Desdemona so deeply that he has not yet wasted one thought about infidelity. “Not from mine own weak merits will I draw the smallest fear or doubt of her revolt,” (v. 185f).

But one can also feel that Othello fears to become jealous. After Iago’s explanation he is really frightened. One can see that he is suffering from feelings of insecurity by his questions. “Why, why is this?” (v.174).

But after a while Othello becomes stronger. He makes Iago comprehend that he completely trusts Desdemona. “For she had eyes and chose me.” (v.187). Othello’s final argumentation is the following: If there is a proved reason to be jealous, he will immediately stop loving Desdemona. But before he starts to doubt her, he wants to have a proof for her sexual infidelity (cf. v. 186ff).

4. How, and why, does Iago discredit Desdemona?

There are a few reasons why Iago discredits Desdemona. The first is, Iago hat the suspicion that the Moor has slept with his wife E. Now he wants to revenge himself. So he wants Othello to suffer jealousy!

Another reason is that Iago wants to have Cassio’s job. He has already obtained that Cassio is dismissed, but he wants Othello to hate him so much that he will never give his job back to him. With the insinuation about a sexual affair Iago causes such a hate in Othello that he even orders Iago to kill Cassio.

First Iago discredits Desdemona by merely remarking that Othello shall look after her. To look after her means she must be insidious and hypocritical. It may mean nothing, but it can indicate that she may be an adulterer. “Look to your wife; observe her will with Cassio.” (v. 195).

The next strong denunciation is also said in general. Iago speaks of the woman of his nation, to whom also Desdemona belongs, of course. He says that they are very tricky and experienced in deceiving their husbands and in keeping it unknown.

5. Iago here presents himself as a kind of friendly instructor. How is this refleted in his language?

Iago really talks to Othello as if he were a loving friend who takes great care and is worried inly about his master’s benefit. Iago often reflects that in his speech. Here are some examples that should pretend that Iago loves and honors his master: “dear my lord” (v. 154), “your free and noble nature” (v. 197).

With some other remarks Iago underlines his loyal friendship to Othello: “I am glad of this: … to show the love and duty I bear you …” (v. 191f), “I humbly do beseech you of your pardon for too much loving you.” (v. 210f). With two other remarks Iago produces the effect that he is worried about Othello: “O beware, my lord, of jealousy!” (v. 163), “Good God, the souls of all my tribe defend from jealousy!” (v. 173f). Indeed Iago is successful in pretending to be an honest friend. It becomes obvious by Othello’s last affectionate reaction: “I am bound to thee for ever.” (v. 211).

6. Plot structure

- Othello prefers Cassio and promotes him for the job as a Lieutenant.
- Iago searches revenge and want to bring Othello down.
- Iago plans a lot of intrigues,
- so that Othello dismisses Cassio, orders Iago to murder Cassio
- and murders his wife.
- The intrigues are revealed in the end,
- so that Othello kills himself.

7. Themes 8. Conflicts

- true and sincere love - promotion
- married life - secret marriage
- hate - skin colour
- jealousy, envy - rejected love
- revenge - naivety
- business - hypocrisy
- pride - war
- eloquence - drunkenness
- suspicion - fights
- self-confidence - intrigues
- reputation


Excerpt out of 6 pages


William Shakespeare: Othello. Analyse Vers 154 – 212
Johann-Gottfried-Herder-Gymnasium  (Johann-Gottfried-Herder-Gymnasium)
Englisch Leistungskurs
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ISBN (eBook)
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376 KB
Kommentar des Englisch-Lehrers: Eine schöne Arbeit mit zahlreichen guten Beobachtungen, methodisch richtig und sprachlich fehlerfrei.
Shakespeare, Othello, Iago, Desdemona, Rodrigo, Brabantio, Interpretation, plot, plot structure, character, Intrige, jealousy, intrigue, conflict, strategy, tragedy
Quote paper
Diplom-Pädagogin Anna Bachem (Author), 2000, William Shakespeare: Othello. Analyse Vers 154 – 212, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/269468


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