Come now, Othello.
In truth – you, an honourable murderer? And I the demi-devil?
If I am but half the devil, then it is you who with me completes him! Perhaps you may even solely command hell, leaving me but evil’s lowly, intangible tempter. For what was I ever to you but that? But a man who knew your weaknesses well and, seizing them, seized you! But one whom you made the model of virtue! But a man of words which you turned to rapiers!
I, more fell than hunger? Not more so than your own!
Not more fell than your blind appetite for the devoted approval of the fair Desdemona, and certainly not more fell than your ache, your near craving to see yourself wronged.
For I ensnared your soul and body in a trap built of your own vices, and these two notably:
One not easily jealous! One who loved too well!
None but the fool of envy – none but one filled with unbookish jealousy – would construe Cassio’s smiles, gestures, and light behavior so thoroughly in the wrong.
But, should we assume your fault permissible, let us continue. What of good, noble Cassio? Had he not beguiled the strumpet, laughter would not have escaped him, and no basis would exist upon which to assign him blame. Had he not spoke of his ineptitude with drink, I would have been unable to turn him to offence! Had my sick fool Roderigo not been turned by love, he would not have been a sick fool!
The fault lies with you and your lieutenant. With you, on you; what you will. Ha!
“With her, on her; what you will” – words enough to taint the reputation of the purest lady! Words enough to turn the noble Othello to madness. Words permitting you to decide what you will; you willed to mistrust her.
And now, upon your fall, you say’st of yourself, “That’s he that was Othello?” Claim you that there has arisen a change within you? Fie, you are that you are! And you always were precisely what you became. So you told me yourself, upon word of the handkerchief. You banished your fond love, summoning a profound vengeance from the hollow cell within you. Yielded your love’s crown to your innate, tyrannous hate! Your bosom swelled with your fraught – that of aspics’ tongues, so potent in their venom. Villain I may be, but never did I call claim to “conjurer” – to creature capable of concocting from plain air that black brew which burns within thee.
Now, Lodovico commands that I look upon the tragic loading of your bed
And terms it my work. O, if I could say similarly!
But I took no weapon to your breast, no breath from the lips of your lady.
“Iago!” they all cry. “Iago hurt him!” “Iago set him on!”
But I took no command of Roderigo’s rapier.
“Here, stand behind this bulk,” said I.
“Do it not with poison,” I recommended.
But your own courses denoted you thus that I may save my speech. The acts were yours.
And even I was yours, in that I was what you made me. None would have lent me his trust had you not termed me honest, honest, honest Iago.
“‘Tis pitiful; but yet Iago knows!”
“‘Tis he:–O brave Iago, honest and just!”
Good Iago, bold Iago.
Source of all knowledge in purest form!
An honest creature who sees and knows more, much more, than he unfolds.
I told you what I thought, and told no more than what you found yourself was apt and true. I warned you too, Othello. That it is my nature’s plague to spy into abuses, and that oft my jealousy shapes faults that are not—
Honest, honest, honest Iago.
“O fool, fool, fool!” you say’st of yourself. Cry “O villain!” in your name, too. For what, in the end, distinguishes me from you? I called my lady by the same name you did yours – villainous whore. Condemned her to death in the same manner you did Desdemona. We consented in the death of Cassio. And we shall, it appears, encounter the same fate. What distinguishes you from me? That the proceedings feasted upon your flaws, that the model of your virtue was a man serving evil, and that you bred your beast from my mere beginnings.
Come now, Othello. And I the demi-devil?