Iago and Desdemona are among the two most distinct characters in all of Shakespeare's plays. Iago is in constant collusion for malignant ends while Desdemona is a candid and reputable human being who wishes no harm to anyone. Shakespeare, utilizing crafty imagery, allusions, and wily diction, manifests these differences through Iago's final speech of the first Scene in the Second Act and Desdemona's magnanimous defense of her husband's capricious actions at the fourth Scene of the Third Act.
Iago's gift for manipulating others to serve his objectives is derived from superior word skill and persuasion. He enchants the naïve Roderigo with his grandiose elocution at the end of the first Scene in Act II, stating his disdain for Othello and his desire to put in place any machination that will doom Othello. "Doth, like a poisonous mineral, gnaw my inwards" avers Iago with sublime imagery that alludes to his obsession with his Lord (II.i). The literal physical context of the quote is congruous with a play which later emits a great deal of violence. Iago's haughtiness and egotism reach epic proportions throughout the play, but in this speech they swelter with an immaculate touch emblematic of his aversion for Othello. Iago plans to sabotage the Moor's temperament "so strong, That judgment cannot cure" (II.i). Throughout the speech, Iago's diction remains dark, contemptuous, and vengeful. "Nothing.shall content my soul, Till I am even'd with him, wife for wife" and "the lusty Moor Hath leap'd into my seat" portray a man wild with rage; rage so great that Iago is willing to implicate others not directly involved in this competitive affair he supposedly has with Othello, namely, Desdemona (II.i). He spares no one in his path of conquest, fearing Cassio "with [his] night-cap too" and intending to use the gentile Lieutenant as a ploy in his schemes (II.i).
Desdemona's soft-natured character is incapable of castigating her husband's rash actions and she remains blindingly loyal in her conversation with Emilia at the conclusion of the Third Act. Desdemona attributes Othello's foul mood to a matter "of state, either from Venice, or some unhatch'd practise", refusing to grapple with the severity of a situation where her husband might be repugnant at her (III.iv). Her indomitable character does not fall prey to weak entreaties as she eschews any other possibilities to explicate Othello's vagabond-like demeanor. "Men's natures wrangle with inferior things" mentions Desdemona in a quote that starkly displays her differences with Iago, whose obsessions with glory and greatness can hardly be termed "inferior" (III.iv). The use of the word "wrangle" epitomizes cogent imagery as Shakespeare embeds the reader in a situation where men are literally fighting with the trivial delicacies of life. The quote lightens the mood and is symptomatic of Desdemona's pure- hearted quintessence. Unlike Iago, Desdemona doesn't riddle her speech with vile and vicious diction. She holds no grudges, despite her husband's firebrand-like behavior. Desdemona is fit at "Arraigning his unkindness with my soul", with Shakespeare using connotatively-soft words, such as "soul", to represent her forgiving nature (III.iv). Desdemona concludes her speech with another verbal bout of defense for her husband, as "he's indicted falsely" alludes to the trust she has for Othello, who she believes, no matter what the circumstance may be, committed no wrong (III.iv). The fortitude by which she adores Othello will cling onto her until ignoble death.
Iago, squalid, fervently disputatious, and odious, is a testament to Shakespeare's lyrical genius, as through use of bold imagery, resplendent diction, and witty allusions he twists situations to fit his own purposes. Desdemona, however, employs the same elements for more benevolent ends. Iago's sordid character and Desdemona's splendid aura have given posterity a dynamic topic of conversation that isn't fleeting.