36 pages 1 hour read

William Shakespeare


Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1604

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Important Quotes

Quotation Mark Icon

“For, sir, it is as sure as you are Roderigo, were I the Moor I would not be Iago. In following him, I follow but myself. Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty, but seeming so for my peculiar end. For when my outward action doth demonstrate the native act and figure of my heart in complement extern, ’tis not long after but I will wear my heart upon my sleeve for daws to peck at. I am not what I am.”

(Act I, Scene 1, Lines 61-71)

Iago, incensed that Othello has promoted Cassio over him, tells Roderigo of his plan to deceive Othello and vows that his behavior will not reveal his true feelings and motivation. This passage establishes Iago as a villain as well as Roderigo’s limited complicity. By confiding in Roderigo at the start of his plot, Iago captures his trust, allowing him to later manipulate the Desdemona-obsessed Roderigo into attacking Cassio. Throughout the play, Iago’s villainy deepens as his deceptions expand, ensnaring each major character. “I am not what I am” (71) hints at Othello’s later implication that Iago is a manifestation of the devil.

Quotation Mark Icon

“Sir, you’re robbed. For shame, put on your gown! Your heart is burst. You have lost half your soul. Even now, now, very now, an old black ram is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise!”

(Act I, Scene 1, Lines 94-98)

In exposing Desdemona’s elopement with Othello, Iago is playing on Brabantio’s racial prejudice by supplying a graphic and demeaning image to represent their coupling. In this comparison, Iago reduces both characters to animals, with their colors meant to be an object of outrage and disgust. In Iago’s comparison, Desdemona is not only a passive “white ewe” (98) being mounted by “an old black ram” (97), but she is also the property of her father.