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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: May ::
Re: Iago
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0466 Wednesday, 13 May 1998.

[1]     From:   Ed Taft <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 13 May 1998 11:04:24 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Iago

[2]     From:   Jamie Brough <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 13 May 1998 16:07:50 EDT
        Subj:   Re: Iago [Paul Smith's response]


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <
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Date:           Wednesday, 13 May 1998 11:04:24 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Iago

Dear Paul Smith,

You may be right that Iago feels inferior to others and hates them for
it. That his motive revolves around his own lack of "beauty," either
interior or exterior, seems revealing. At the 1997 Ohio Shakespeare
Conference, Janet Adelman gave a paper on Iago that reinforces your view
by suggesting that Iago sees himself as excrement and therefore decides
to make the world into a replica of himself.  I usually don't like
psychological explanations, but this one seems to fit. (I might also add
that Adelman's analysis of Coriolanus is brilliant and depends on the
same sort of psychological approach.) Without becoming too obscene, I
might add that the color of excrement may also play a major part in
explaining why Iago goes after the black Othello and tries to turn his
"inside" into a replica of his "outside." I hasten to add that this may
be what Iago thinks, but it is not the normative position espoused by
the play, at least as I read it.

--Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jamie Brough <
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Date:           Wednesday, 13 May 1998 16:07:50 EDT
Subject:        Re: Iago [Paul Smith's response]

I had a similar idea in a recent essay exploring Iago's motivation from
reading the first act:

Iago's false-self might not be simply a shroud to a motiveless evil
[Coleridge]. "In following him, I follow but myself", he says. It is
true that his character appears empty of all goodness, but it may be his
lack of moral value which creates a desire to 'replace' Othello (as may
be seen from the expression of love towards Desdemona latter in the
play). By projecting his vice upon the Moor-exploring and extinguishing
it-he may become the person he sold to the "three great ones of the
city", adding depth to the front and becoming a man of honour. Either
that or he's the Devil personified.
 

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