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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: May ::
Re: Iago
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0472  Monday, 18 May 1998.

[1]     From:   Ed Taft <
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        Date:   Friday, 15 May 1998 15:06:59 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Hugh Grady's

[2]     From:   Alicia Connolly-Lohr <
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        Date:   Friday, 15 May 1998 19:59:18 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0442  Q: Iago

[3]     From:   Justin Bacon <
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        Date:   Thursday, 14 May 1998 13:57:06 -0700
        Subj:   Incest; Succession; Iago


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <
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Date:           Friday, 15 May 1998 15:06:59 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Hugh Grady's Iago

Dear Hugh,

It's good to talk to you again, albeit via SHK. Let's see if I follow
you.  Someone really good at using reason, and who no longer curbs his
talent by means of outside controls, e.g., religion, cannot help but
notice that he gains power over others. He (or she) might (would?) grow
to enjoy that power if we all contain within us a "will to  power," as
20th-Century philosophy sometimes argues. The more reason is used, the
more we enjoy it, and so a vicious circle develops that ends only when
the perpetrator is caught!  Is that it?  If so, it certainly makes sense
of one of the major attributes of Iago: he is a trickster who clearly
enjoys what he is doing.

Thanks for the contribution,
Ed Taft

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Alicia Connolly-Lohr <
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Date:           Friday, 15 May 1998 19:59:18 EDT
Subject: 9.0442  Q: Iago
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0442  Q: Iago

I think Iago was more or less motivated by revenge and jealousy.  He
desperately wanted to be  Othello's first lieutenant, his right hand
man, like Cassio.  Yet, like a jealous child, Iago sees Othello
repeatedly favor Cassio over him.  I see it as a festering jealousy of
Cassio. Iago has a growing desire to pay back both Othello and Cassio.
Iago is deeply insecure but he has an exterior social polish that he
hides behind.  His ego is hurt badly.  He feels rejected,
unappreciated.  Iago sees that he'll never achieve the same love that
Othello holds for Cassio.  Iago discovers his smooth manners are an
excellent disguise and by being evil, he finds a way to excel in
something.  This satisfies his own ego-he's the best at evil plotting
and marvels at himself.  he also gets his revenge.  This twisted
rationale is not too far off from the explanations that experts give for
what criminals, particularly the heinous ones!  It never makes sense but
it does; it's human.

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Justin Bacon <
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Date:           Thursday, 14 May 1998 13:57:06 -0700
Subject:        Incest; Succession; Iago

Paul Smith wrote:

> I'm convinced that Iago's motivation can be found in Act 5 Scene 1 when
> he tells Roderigo, in regards to Cassio, "He hath a daily beauty in his
> life that makes me ugly."  He thinks himself inferior, and hates
> everyone else for it.  This hatred, stemming from his self-loathing, is
> the motivation for his actions.

Iago's true motivation is so difficult to pin-point because he supplies
so many differing (and, in some cases, mutually exclusive) reasons for
his actions-to others in the play, to the audience, and even to himself.

As an actor if I were to play the role I would select the sense of
betrayal, because it provides the most interesting possibilities and
dynamics. I have the feeling that he loved (in a fraternal sense, not
homosexual) Othello, and felt not only passed over in the promotion of
Cassius, but actively betrayed by someone he had thought a dear and
close friend.

It may not be possible to find a single, conclusive answer to this
question -- but I should disclaimer my own opinions by saying that I
have never attempted an in-depth study of the play. I have read it many
times and analyzed it, but never *studied* it.

Justin Bacon

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