Shakespeare's "Othello" and the Power of Language
I am not what I am
-- Iago to Rodrigo (Othello 1.1.65)
Despite the truth of Iago's confession to Rodrigo that he is not what he appears to be, his gullible sidekick continues to trust this two-faced "confidante" who swears "by Janus," and who sows doubt, destruction and despair in the paths of all he encounters. How? How is Iago able to convince one and all that he is, as he is constantly called, "honest Iago"?
Much of the answer must lie in Iago's skillful manipulation of rhetorical skills. A puppeteer of the psyche, Iago pulls the strings of those who should know better with a battery of verbal weapons. In his soliloquies and dialogues he reveals himself to the audience to be a master of connotative and metaphoric language, inflammatory imagery, emotional appeals, well-placed silences, dubious hesitations, leading questions, meaningful repetition, and sly hints. Indeed, Iago is so good at lying that he is able to convince even himself that he has the soundest of reasons to destroy Othello, Desdemona, and Cassio.
Iago's convincing rhetoric clearly reveals what a powerful-and dangerous-tool language can be, especially when used by the eloquent, but unscrupulous, individual. In this lesson, you will explore the basis of Iago's persuasive power by analyzing his astonishing command of rhetoric and figurative language.
Pathos is a method of convincing people with an argument drawn out through an emotional response of pity, sympathy, and sorrow. Pathos can be expressed through words, pictures, or even with gestures of the body.
Ethos is a means of convincing others of the character or credibility of the persuader. It is natural for us to accept the credibility of people whom we hold in reverence.
Logos is a literary device that can be defined as a statement, sentence, or argument used to convince or persuade the targeted audience by employing reason or logic.
Write an effective summary of Act 1 in your reading journal. Make sure to condiser the two guiding questions from today in your responses.
Austin High School teacher