William Shakespeare's Othello


Brought to you by The Educational Company of Ireland
With annotations, analysis and commentary by Patrick Murray
Podcasts read by actors Simon Coury and Niamh Daly

Iago’s plot

‘As the title of the play suggests, Othello is its central character and the play is his tragedy. In an important sense, however, Iago has the key role. The other characters mostly react to what he says and does, and move according to his plans. Even those events that he is not responsible for, accidental circumstances such as Desdemona’s loss of the handkerchief or Bianca’s timely arrival in Act 4, Scene 1, are put to clever use by Iago, and become part of his plot.

In terms of the percentage of lines spoken by the characters, Iago has the major part, with 31 per cent of the lines. Othello has 25 per cent and Desdemona 11 per cent. Iago also has approximately the same number of speeches as Othello and exactly the same number of scenes on stage.

Although everyone’s destiny is in his hands, two important unplanned events bring Iago down. These are Emilia’s revelations and the discovery of incriminating evidence in Roderigo’s pocket. Iago plans and foresees the ruin of others, but his own downfall is unplanned and unforeseen…’