Iago is one of Shakespeare’s greatest villains. Though most actors exploring the character of Iago for auditions gravitate towards Iago’s Act 2 Scene 1 monologue, this is a terrific alternative. It contains all of Iago’s familiar cunning, and is a dark, playful and enticing exploration.
Original Text Iago Monologue (Act 2 Scene 3)
And what’s he then that says I play the villain?
When this advice is free I give and honest,
Probal to thinking and indeed the course
To win the Moor again? For ’tis most easy
Th’ inclining Desdemona to subdue
In any honest suit. She’s framed as fruitful
As the free elements: and then for her
To win the Moor, were’t to renounce his baptism,
All seals and symbols of redeemed sin,
His soul is so enfettered to her love
That she may make, unmake, do what she list,
Even as her appetite shall play the god
With his weak function. How am I then a villain
To counsel Cassio to this parallel course
Directly to his good? Divinity of hell!
When devils will the blackest sins put on
They do suggest at first with heavenly shows
As I do now. For whiles this honest fool
Plies Desdemona to repair his fortune,
And she for him pleads strongly to the Moor,
I’ll pour this pestilence into his ear:
That she repeals him for her body’s lust.
And by how much she strives to do him good
She shall undo her credit with the Moor –
So will I turn her virtue into pitch
And out of her own goodness make the net
That shall enmesh them all.
Iago Act 2 Scene 3 Performance
Here is Kenneth Branagh performing this iconic Iago monologue. The text has been slightly modified, but it’s an awesome version. I would recommend NOT watching this if you are in the process of performing, as you want to avoid any form of imitation in your portrayal of Iago.