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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: February ::
Re: Iago's Homosexuality
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0254.  Friday, 21 February 1997.

[1]     From:   Sean K. Lawrence <
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        Date:   Thursday, 20 Feb 1997 08:42:27 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0246  Re: Iago's Homosexuality =


[2]     From:   Harry Teplitz <
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        Date:   Thursday, 20 Feb 1997 12:42:02 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Iago's Homosexuality =


[3]     From:   Trace Shelton <
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        Date:   Thursday, 20 Feb 1997 22:26:13 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0246  Re:  Homosexuality =



[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean K. Lawrence <
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Date:           Thursday, 20 Feb 1997 08:42:27 -0800
Subject: 8.0246  Re: Iago's Homosexuality
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0246  Re: Iago's Homosexuality

Terry writes:

> Some of the most
> interesting things about Shakespeare's audience are the ways which
> they're DIFFERENT from us.  =


You mean that they might not be motivated by material interests?  Now
that would be different, not to mention subversive.

Cheers,
Sean.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Teplitz <
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Date:           Thursday, 20 Feb 1997 12:42:02 -0800 (PST)
Subject:        Iago's Homosexuality

I have often thought that the idea of Iago=92s homosexuality missed the
point.  It has always seemed to me that Iago=92s masculinity, and perhaps=

his hetero-sexuality, is threatened by Othello.  Throughout the play,
Iago plays a female role next to Othello, and from Iago=92s point of view=
,
it may be Othello who forces him into it.  =


As an example, Cassio is the chosen leader of men, not Iago.  Then, Iago
is sent on a ship with the women, since he is thought of as trustworthy
-- i.e. not likely to make advances to women.  Upon arrival, Iago plays
word games with the women.  During the drunken fight involving Cassio,
Iago is not seen as able to break up the fight himself.  A lot of these
examples are, like the Cassio dream speech, initiated by Iago himself,
but from his point of view he could feel forced into them.  And then
every ploy he adopts just feeds his resentment of Othello.  So rather
than  seeking Othello=92s love, Iago is seeking Othello=92s validation of=

his power.

Now, I admit that these two concepts are not necessarily mutually =

exclusive.  Iago could easily not want to admit his own attraction for =

Othello and/or Cassio, and that result in his perceiving Othello as a
threat.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Trace Shelton <
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Date:           Thursday, 20 Feb 1997 22:26:13 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 8.0246  Re:  Homosexuality
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0246  Re:  Homosexuality

>Thoughts sparked by comments on sin in M for M and on homosexuality in
>Othello and Midsummer, along with references to Foxe's Martyrs: I'm
>rather a novice here compared to some of you, but I question some of the=

>comments which seem to indicate that these interpretations of the plays
>are absolute.
>Homosexuality: certainly Iago's jealously can be explained by sexual
>motivations. Can it not also be motivated by political ambitions? Yes,
>the homosexuality is one plausible interpretation, but not the only
>one.

Sorry I cut your message; I left only the part that concerns my
assertions.  I would like to clarify that I am not proposing that
reading Iago as being "attracted to men", if that is suitably P.C., but
rather that it is an interesting take, and one that has merit.  There is
evidence to support this view, and none to totally deny it.  As critics,
I don=92t believe that we are compelled to resolve exactly the author=92s=

intention for the perception of a character; rather, I believe the
author, in this case Shakespeare, leaves characters open to
interpretation for a reason.  Much of the heat I have taken for this
proposal derives either from personal distaste for such an assertion, or
from displeasure at my use of the term "homosexual".  There may or may
not have been "homosexuals" as such in Shakesperian England, but this
was really not the gist of my proposal.  For the peace of mind of those
who question the use of this term with regards to Iago, rest assured
that I will do the research.  What I am looking for is some kind of
critical response to my assertion that Iago may have been attracted to
Cassio, with some evidence to back it up.  I hope that no one will take
offense to this, but I thought it needed some clarification.

Trace Shelton
 

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