Back to: Othello by William Shakespeare
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Soliloquy is the speech of any character in a play which it delivers when it is alone in order to inform the audience in a calculative way about whatever is passing in the character’s mind regarding the action in the play.
It is essential for the reader to know this because it brings out the drama. In Othello, just like many of his plays, Shakespeare turns this device into a most natural one and uses it most successfully.
Use of Soliloquy
This play uses soliloquy to unravel the hidden motives of a complex yet outrightly villain character Iago and at the same time, such soliloquies are used to advance the action of the play.
At the end of almost every act of this play, there is a soliloquy which feels more like a commentary on whatever is happening throughout. Without those soliloquies, many aspects of the play will remain uninterpreted.
There are primarily five soliloquies in the part of Iago.
- His first soliloquy, where he says, “I do hate him as I do hell-pains” reveals to us his intense hatred for Othello.
- When the first Act of the play ends, Iago reveals his plan to use Cassio as someone to dupe Othello into his fall. There he says, “Cassio is a proper man; let me see now. To get his place and to plume up my will in double Knavery.”
- In Iago’s third soliloquy, he tries to justify the motive behind his villainy. He reveals his doubt regarding Othello and says that he is “led to diet” his revenge, for that he “suspects the lusty moor” has lured his wife Emilia into his trap too.
- By the fourth soliloquy, Iago has triumphed partly in his plan after the dismissal of Cassio from his public position. This is when also readers get to know how he has convinced Cassio into the idea of approaching Desdemona to make Othello take him back.
- Very close to the accomplishment of his malice against Othello, in the final soliloquy, Iago reveals about his plan to drop Desdemona’s handkerchief into Cassio’s room and let Othello know about this. His deep understanding of human emotion is shown when he says, “trifle light as air are to the jealous confirmations strong as proofs of holy writ.”
In the end, one realises the effective use of soliloquy in this play. It reveals the intricacies of major characters and helps the plot develop.