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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: June ::
Re: Iago
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1175  Wednesday, 7 June 2000.

[1]     From:   Geralyn Horton <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 06 Jun 2000 12:08:26 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1159 Re: Iago

[2]     From:   David Bishop <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 6 Jun 2000 13:58:11 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1159 Re: Iago

[3]     From:   Marti Markus <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 07 Jun 2000 00:34:52 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1159 Re: Iago


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Geralyn Horton <
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Date:           Tuesday, 06 Jun 2000 12:08:26 -0400
Subject: 11.1159 Re: Iago
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1159 Re: Iago

uh...well, Hamlet:

> Perhaps [Iago's] expression can be compared helpfully with Hamlet's similarly
> difficult words to Ophelia, "I did love you once. . . I loved you not." <snip>  by changing the emphases on the key words
> "I", "love", or "you" we get a richer sense,
<snip> most satisfying to me of the
> various permutations- which I will not explore here-is to believe that
> Hamlet is saying that he loved the real, the honest Ophelia, but that,
> changed as she is into her father's puppet, she is something he never
> loved. In this reading, the change in emphasis is principally with the
> word "you".

Speaking as an actor, I'd say that though the method you follow is
excellent, your use of it here doesn't work.  The line's rhythm doesn't
permit an emphasis on "you".  The emphasis, in keeping with Hamlet's
philosophical inclinations as a self questioner, falls strongly on
"not." Implying, I deduce, that the quality of his former love was NOT
real, a NOT a "marriage of true minds", but his deluded response to a
beautiful but false image, the product of feminine wiles and cosmetic
deception.  When Ophelia replies "I was the more deceived" her simple
answer carries a double reproach: Hamlet's words, which counterfeited
true love well enough to win her heart, are more blameworthy than her
amateurish attempts to make herself attractive to him.

Geralyn Horton, actor and Playwright
Newton, Mass. 02460
<http://www.tiac.net/users/ghorton>

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Bishop <
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Date:           Tuesday, 6 Jun 2000 13:58:11 -0400
Subject: 11.1159 Re: Iago
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1159 Re: Iago

I think Tony Burton is on the right track about Iago's "I am not what I
am." I would only change the word emphasized. Hamlet's contradiction in
"I loved you not" seems to me to turn on a different "I", and Iago's on
emphasizing "what". Denying the "what" of one's outward role, as in
Lear's question to Kent, "What art thou", would make pretty good sense
of  Iago's line.

David

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marti Markus <
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Date:           Wednesday, 07 Jun 2000 00:34:52 +0100
Subject: 11.1159 Re: Iago
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1159 Re: Iago

Contrary to other "stage machiavells" mentioned by Don Bloom, Iago has
no real goal. Gloucester wants to become Richard III, Barrabas wants
revenge.  Iago has no chance to become a duke, or a general, or whatever
else one could imagine that he might possibly want to become - and he
has got no reason for revenge, either. He has no possibility to raise in
the hierarchy of the virtual world of the play he lives in. He is just a
"bad guy".

"I am not what I am" (Twelfth Night) is spoken by Cesario.  Or is it
Viola, who says that she is only playing a man? Or is it the boy actor,
saying either that he is not a man or that he is not a woman playing a
man? If the words are spoken to Olivia, she does not seem to take notice
of them. If they are meant for the audience, they are not necessary -
the audience knows already.

"I am not what I am" (Othello) is spoken by Iago. Roderigo does not
really react to these words either. Could the actor of Iago be speaking
to the audience? (=" Don't shoot me, I am only an actor")?  I don't
think so. Probably the phrase just means in both cases: "I
(=Cesario/Iago) am not what [you Olivia/Roderigo think] I am" = "I am a
good actor" = "I am good at pretending things" = "You will never find
out what I am like" = "Nobody will ever find out what I am like".  Do we
have to go any further? We may, of course. Let us consider then, that
all the world is a stage.  If JAHWE,  as I understand, means "I am what
I am" (God is not part of the play or game [s]he created), would "I am
not what I am" then mean "I am the devil"? Would it not just mean = "I
am not JAHWE" = "I am only human" = "I am a performer" = "I am a figure
in a play"?  All the men and women are merely players, aren't they?

Not knowing who he is,
MM
 

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