Kerry N

Thesis Statement: In the play, Othello, animals are a common motif used to dehumanize Othello, Woman, and those of lesser intelligence by making them seem more like animals with no thoughts of their own.

Quote 1: “O, villainous!/…Ere I would say/I would drown myself for love of a guinea hen, I/would change my humanity with a baboon.” –Iago (Act 1 Sc 3 lines 353-358)

In this quote, Iago is dehumanizing Rodrigo. He is calling Rodrigo a baboon because he is wants to kill himself over Desdemona. Iago believes that killing yourself over love is irrational and immature. Iago is also insulting Desdemona, by calling her a guinea hen, a bird with a skinny head and a fat lower body. He is dehumanizing both Desdemona and Rodrigo at the same time by saying that Desdemona is as attractive as an ugly bird and Rodrigo has the intelligence of a baboon showing his true discontent with both characters.

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Quote 2: “Where they as prime as goats, as hot as monkeys…–Iago
(Act 3 Sc. 3 Line 460)

During this time in the play, Iago is trying to convince Othello that Desdemona and Cassio are sleeping together. Othello does not want to believe it and claims he can only truly believe what Iago is accusing if he sees it with his own eyes. Iago tells him that this is impossible. He compares them to lustful goats and monkeys saying that even if they were that desiring of each other, watching them would be impossible. He dehumanizes them animals to make Cassio and Desdemona seem less humane due to their infidelities. Dehumanizing them is useful to Iago because it makes Othello think of them as animals instead of humans, which is


Quote 3: “O damned I! O inhuman dog!” – Rodrigo (Act 5 Sc 1 Line 74)

The theme of animals eventually shifts. In the beginning and middle of the play, Iago is mostly the person who uses animals to describe and compare people. He dehumanizes them in order to manipulate people or show his discontent for certain types of people. However, in the beginning of Act 5, after Iago stabs Rodrigo, Rodrigo calls Iago a dog. Right before his death, he discovers that Iago is actually an unkind and manipulative person and not as honest as everybody thinks. Rodrigo aims to expose Iago in his final breaths, however no one is around to hear it. The motif of animals shifts from dehumanizing people as a form of manipulation, to a method of exposing ones true character through a comparison.