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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

What's a quote by Iago in Shakespeare's Othello you like but is lesser known?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (25786 points ) September 6th, 2012

As asked.

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6 Answers

Earthgirl's avatar

There are so many famous ones! Wearing your heart on your sleeve, etc, etc,,,
I really had forgotten, but an internet search turned up so many! I like this one and below, there is an analysis, which helps since I can’t pretend to be a Shakespearean scholar who knows all this by heart!

“Virtue! a fig! ‘tis in ourselves that we are thus
or thus. Our bodies are our gardens, to the which
our wills are gardeners: so that if we will plant
nettles, or sow lettuce, set hyssop and weed up
thyme, supply it with one gender of herbs, or
distract it with many, either to have it sterile
with idleness, or manured with industry, why, the
power and corrigible authority of this lies in our
wills. (1.3.5)_”

When Iago makes an analogy between gardening and exercising free will, we’re reminded of the way that Iago is the ultimate master gardener, so to speak. Part of what makes him such a brilliant manipulator of Othello is his ability to plant the seeds of doubt and jealousy in Othello’s mind.

All I have to say is that I really hated Iago when I read this play and studied it in high school. I hated Othello too! I thought it was so unfair how little it took for him to suspect his wife whom he claimed to love so completely! To believe she had cheated on him with totally circumstantial evidence!

wonderingwhy's avatar

These probably aren’t exactly “lesser known”. Though perhaps lesser known than the “green-ey’d monster” quote as I was able to google them even with my mangled recollection. Still I liked ‘em well enough to remember them all this time.

“Reputation is an idle and most false imposition, oft got without merit and lost without deserving.” I remembered it as “Reputation is false and often without merit”.

“Men should be what they seem; Or those that be not, would they might seem none!” I remembered “Men should be what they seem.”

linguaphile's avatar

I was Emilia in Othello and was chosen to participate in the American College Theater Festival for that role. Wonderful days… I really love that play.

My favorite line/monologue was this… I loved the mixture of emotions- confidence, dismay, cynicism, resignation, experience, anger… and more.

Emilia to Desdemona when she asks about whether women would cheat on their husbands:

“Yes, a dozen; and as many to the vantage as would
store the world they played for.
But I do think it is their husbands’ faults
If wives do fall: say that they slack their duties,
And pour our treasures into foreign laps,
Or else break out in peevish jealousies,
Throwing restraint upon us; or say they strike us,
Or scant our former having in despite;
Why, we have galls, and though we have some grace,
Yet have we some revenge. Let husbands know
Their wives have sense like them: they see and smell
And have their palates both for sweet and sour,
As husbands have. What is it that they do
When they change us for others? Is it sport?
I think it is: and doth affection breed it?
I think it doth: is’t frailty that thus errs?
It is so too: and have not we affections,
Desires for sport, and frailty, as men have?
Then let them use us well: else let them know,
The ills we do, their ills instruct us so.”

I also like:
“Perdition catch my soul
But I do love thee! And when I love thee not
Chaos is come again.”

and Othello’s last monologue. Of all the ‘death monologues’ from Shakespeare, Othello’s is my favorite.

Earthgirl's avatar

@linguaphile
That is excellent! Thank you for posting that excerpt. I remember really detesting the character of Othello when I read the play in high school. I love reexamining it all now and thinking about the feminist angle of the play . I found this excellent examination of the feminist elements of Emilia’s character. I had an instinctive aversion to all of the misogyny.

linguaphile's avatar

@Earthgirl I enjoyed reading your link! Thank you!

Earthgirl's avatar

@linguaphile your welcome! I love to keep expanding my knowledge. It would be great to see this play live. I never have seen it live, yet it remains with me.

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