Animal Imagery in Othello Throughout Othello, Shakespeare allows the use of animal imagery as a means for his characters, namely Iago, to communicate their thoughts and personality. With the myriad of such images, much can be said to the fact that Iago’s speech includes over half. Most often, such imagery is utilized in a grotesque manner, common to Iago’s speech, in order to further distress the listener. These metaphors also become increasingly prevalent in Othello’s speech as Iago more and more manipulates him. Animal imagery is also used to express prejudice, such as that against Othello’s race, and/or against the female gender, or merely as descriptive terminology.
In A1, S1, animal imagery first appears in the text to illustrate factors of Iago’s personality. As he rants to Roderigo of his mere self-interest in serving Othello, he degrades servants by claiming that “[a servant] wears out his time much like his master’s ass.” This simile shows Iago’s view of servants as foolish, brainless, animals—the first of many animal-based insults. Iago, insecure in his place, is elaborating in order to prove to Roderigo that he is not just another “ass” following his master, but is instead, working merely for his own benefit.

In the last act, Othello himself takes on animalistic qualities. As Iago says, he “breaks out into savage madness.” Othello takes the primal form of a savage, raging and lacking all objectivity. Even Othello refers to himself as a “horned man.”
In A 3, S 3, Othello first begins to use animal imagery in his speech, saying things such as “…as if there were some monster in his thought,” “exchange me for a goat,” and “I’d rather be a toad!” These uses, all meant to show his abhorrence of the idea of being jealous, could also be a sign of Iago taking more and more power over Othello. His speech, by use of such imagery, is beginning to echo Iago’s.

In William Shakespeare's Othello, the use of imagery and metaphors is significant in conveying meaning as it helps to establish the dramatic atmosphere of the play and reinforce the main themes. Through this, the audience is able to grasp a better understanding of the play.
Throughout Othello, images relating to poison frequently occur. These references are predominantly made by Iago. This seems appropriate for Iago who exhibits the characteristics of poison; they being fatal and deadly. There are several possible explanations to what motivates Iago: being overlooked for the lieutenancy, the belief that Othello and Cassio had committed adultery with his wife, though this is never really proved; class differences present in the society that made him feel inferior, and racial differences. This desire for revenge is so great it "doth, like a poisonous mineral, gnaw [his] inwards." Iago's use of language is a primary weapon in manipulating Othello.