Verbal Irony of Iago
Verbal irony is a technique that Shakespeare uses in his tragedy Othello to show the reader the intended effect of actions his characters, most of all Iago, are signifying without letting the other characters aware. Verbal irony is defined as a figure of speech in which what is said is the opposite of what is meant. (Nordquist) We see Iago many times use this form of sarcasm and irony to enlighten the reader of his villainous plans without having to uncover his plot to the other characters and therefore making the play that much more convincing.
As the play starts out we are introduced to one of the main characters and one that will play the most important role of the tragedy, Iago. In Shakespeare’s Othello, one of the most known quotes of the entire play comes from Iago, “I am not what I am” (Thomas R. Arp 2.1.65). This phrase sums up what to me is the complete nature of our play’s villainous Iago.
From the very first act we see the first glimpse of Iago’s callous nature and power of persuasion. With every character Iago has a different persona. Iago adapts his performance to suit whom he is speaking. “Thus do I ever make my fool my purse” (Nordquist), shows the audience his actual intention. Iago sees Roderigo as a mere investor to his bank and he convinces Roderigo to keep him rich in his pockets in return for affection and love from Desdemona to Roderigo. Which is what Iago is supposed to be doing for him, although Roderigo is just a pawn in Iago’s game, using him to his advantage. At first we see that Roderigo is very willingly on board with Iago’s promises, but as the play goes on characters slowly start to see the actuality of Iago’s nature, all but the most important of all , Othello. (Roberts)
Othello often refers to Iago as a person of decency, loyalty, and goodness. This can also be defined as irony, although a different kind called tragic irony, because these things he believes of Iago are what in the end...