Jean D

In Othello, characters often refer to other characters as animals, which become a motif throughout the play and are used as a way to dehumanize the characters being compared to the animals. An example of this is when Othello says, “Thou hadst been better born a dog than answer my waked wrath.” (Act III.3 414) Here, Othello is telling Iago that if he were to punish him, Iago would rather be a dog. Othello is saying that he could reduce Iago to the point where he would rather be the lowest of low, or a dog, and is therefore dehumanizing Iago by saying what he could do to him just by harming him.


In Othello, animals are a common motif used to dehumanize the characters being called animals. At one point, Iago says, “Even now, now, very now, an old black ram is tupping your white ewe.” (Act I.1 97-98) By calling Othello a black ram, Iago is reducing Othello to the lowest low and dehumanizing him by comparing him to an animal. Also, Iago is putting the terrible image of Brabantio’s innocent lamb of a daughter with the ram Othello. Iago was attempting to make Othello look as bad as possible to Brabantio so that he would not approve of his daughter and Othello’s relationship.


In the play Othello the motif of animals is used to dehumanize the characters. For example, when Iago and Cassio are talking about Bianca’s love for Cassio, Cassio says, “This is the monkey’s own giving out.” (Act IV1 146) This was in reference to Bianca believing that she and Cassio were going to get married. Iago says that this is just what Bianca is saying and dehumanizing her by calling her a monkey. Bianca is thought to be a prostitute in the play and monkeys were said to be animals of a great sexual nature. By calling Bianca a monkey, Cassio is not only making a play at her being a prostitute, but is also reducing her to the level of an animal. He does this to make it clear that he would never wish to marry such a person like Bianca.