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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: May ::
Re: Iago
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0479  Tuesday, 19 May 1998.

[1]     From:   Andrew Walker White <
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        Date:   Monday, 18 May 1998 17:46:18 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Iago's Jealousy

[2]     From:   Yvonne Hopkins <
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        Date:   Monday, 18 May 1998 18:53:29 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0472  Re: Iago

[3]     From:   Ed Taft <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 19 May 1998 09:53:38 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Iago


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <
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Date:           Monday, 18 May 1998 17:46:18 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Iago's Jealousy

I have seen Iago's Jealousy treated most recently a few years back at
Baltimore's Center Stage, and if I remember correctly the emphasis was
on both the racial component (it was set in the 1950's, a time when
racism was in full flower here in the USA), and Iago's suspicion that
Othello had slept with his wife.  In other words, he wanted the Moor to
suffer as he was suffering.  It adds a level of complexity to the tale,
and explains how Iago can describe the semiotics of jealousy so vividly,
and effectively.

Brilliantly acted, both Iago and Othello, the director's concept was
first-rate.

It's a choice that I would certainly like to see staged again, and of
course if anyone's looking for an Iago, I'm occasionally free for such
efforts...

Andrew Walker White
Between Gigs in Arlington, VA

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Yvonne Hopkins <
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Date:           Monday, 18 May 1998 18:53:29 EDT
Subject: 9.0472  Re: Iago
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0472  Re: Iago

Hello everyone,

Regarding your discussion on Othello, I would like to add that there is
nothing in the play that does not contribute to the plot or character
development, such as, for example, the dramatic emphasis placed on the
racial differences between Othello and the other characters within the
play, or the underlying threat of feminism during an era of extreme male
dominance.  According to Aristotle's definition however, a true tragedy
involves an individual's fall from grace.  It is the ultimate
destruction of the individual that is brought upon by a "fatal" flaw
within a hero's character that prevents the hero from achieving
happiness.  As a result, the character's potential is never realized and
the life of the individual is stagnated and has not real purpose for
survival.  It is Othello's jealousy and niavete that not only prevented
him from seizing control over his own life, but also, it is what has
allowed him to become controlled and manipulated by the vindictiveness
of a man who capitalizes on Othello's weaknesses and who opposes Othello
not directly, but indirectly, Iago.  Othello, blinded to Iago's true
intentions, to destroy Othello for promoting Michael Cassio to the rank
of lieutenant, regards Iago as an honest man.  And he professes his
belief in Iago's honesty and trustworthiness; "This fellow's of
exceeding honesty / And knows all [qualities], with a learned spirit/ Of
human dealings" (3.3.258-260).  But the reality of the matter is in fact
twofold.  First, "[t]he Moor is of free and open nature/ That thinks men
honest that but seem to be so / And will as tenderly be led by th' nose
/ As asses are," Iago remarks of Othello's inability to determine the
true character and integrity of others or lack thereof ( 1.3.339-402).
Second, Iago is not what he seems to be as he himself has proclaimed, "I
am not what I am" (1.1.58).  "I follow him to serve my turn upon him"
(1.1.42).  "In following him, I follow but myself" (1.1.58).
Ironically, Othello fails in believing in his wife's innocence regarding
the accusations of her alleged adulteress behavior, a woman whom he
loves and knows to be of exceptional character and integrity, and he
fails to recognize that he in indeed tenderly being led by the nose as
asses are (1.3.339-402)

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <
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Date:           Tuesday, 19 May 1998 09:53:38 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Iago

I agree with Justin Bacon that Iago's motivations are "difficult to
pin-point," and the reasons why this is so might be worth discussing.
Is it because Iago is a liar, even about himself? Is it because
Shake-speare believed in pure evil, evil innate and in that sense
"unmotivated"?  Could it be that we just have not grasped yet (after 400
years?) the "essence" of Iago's character? Or might it be a principle
technique of Shakespeare's to present characters whose motivations are
suggestive but not definitive?  There are probably a lot of other
explanations for the mystery of Iago (and of a lot of Shakespeare's
characters).

--Ed Taft
 

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