The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2872 Thursday, 20 December 2001
Date: Wednesday, 19 Dec 2001 21:40:08 -0000
Subject: 12.2863 Iago's Evil
Comment: Re: SHK 12.2863 Iago's Evil
Sophie's interesting contribution prodded me to write a thought I wanted
to pass on the group anyway. After seeing the film "Dead Poets Society"
(for the first time) brought to mind the nature of the "dark forces of
antagonism" re-identified by Robert McKee in his terrific book "Story".
He quotes that this aspect of story-writing fails prospective writers
most often. In the aforementioned film the "dark forces", which are
absolutely imperative in any story, are two dimensional conservatism in
the shape of a grumpy headmaster and a slightly idiotic, overactive,
pedantic parent. This is one of the reasons why "Dead Poets Society" is
not great art and why "Othello" is. To know evil, its origins and its
logic is a dark and terrifying path to take for any writer, but to do
the job properly is quite necessary. The writer must become that awful
character to know fully the world in which he resides. The writer must
know the "evil one" as well as all the laudatory motives of the
protagonist. It seems that Shakespeare was not afraid of this terrible
walk in the dark. He jumped fully into this murky pit so that the
audience has almost first hand knowledge of the brain of a madman. Iago
is a good example of this. So is Aaron, Richard III and perhaps several
others. If we are writers we must dig down for the times when we have
hated without reason; when reason cannot stop the vision of the
destruction of our foe. If we are honest we have felt this dreadful
emotion, if only fleetingly. In Shakespeare this caustic emotion
overwhelms the evil character who feels happy to justify his actions in
any way he feels. Iago hated Othello. The reason, so Shakespeare seems
to be saying, is unimportant. It could be the passing by of promotion;
thwarted homosexual advances; colour prejudice - or a dozen others.
What Shakespeare says clearly, however, is that the consequence of the
maintenance of the hatred leads to destruction for all.
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