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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: January ::
Re: Ancient Iago
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0120  Monday, 21 January 2002

[1]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Friday, 18 Jan 2002 13:07:22 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0105 Re: Ancient Iago

[2]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Friday, 18 Jan 2002 18:16:28 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0105 Re: Ancient Iago

[3]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Sunday, 20 Jan 2002 14:31:50 -0500
        Subj:   Ancient Iago


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Friday, 18 Jan 2002 13:07:22 -0600
Subject: 13.0105 Re: Ancient Iago
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0105 Re: Ancient Iago

        Edmund Taft writes,

> I disagree with Andy White's assertion that the provenance of the Ghost
> has been made clear by 3.1. What has been proven is that the Ghost told
> the truth about Hamlet, Sr.'s murder -- period. Where the Ghost comes
> from and who he really is is still a mystery.

Well, yes and no. On the one hand, it could not be much of a ghost if it
weren't mysterious. WS presumably wrote about it the way he did in order
to create an atmosphere of mystery and numinousness -- and the resulting
terror in all who see it. On the other hand, the ghost tells Hamlet, "I
am thy father's spirit, / Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night, /
And for the day confin'd to fast in fires" of Purgatory. Of course, it
might be lying. But on the one issue subject to verification, it is
proved completely reliable.

If we accept it more or less on its own terms, the play makes good
sense. A terrible crime has been committed that has infected the entire
body politic of Denmark. The country must be healed, and that can only
be accomplished if justice is done and a rightful ruler installed in the
sacred role of king.  To get this done, the ghost has been sent to
command Hamlet to do it -- even if doing it requires that justice take
the form of the normally-forbidden revenge.

I don't think Shakespeare cared if it was theologically or
demonologically sound. He wanted "good theatre" and a story by which to
develop character and theme. And he got it. In spades.

Cheers,
don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Friday, 18 Jan 2002 18:16:28 -0800
Subject: 13.0105 Re: Ancient Iago
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0105 Re: Ancient Iago

Graham Bradshaw suggests that

>there is
>another, probably related question, which is thrown up later in the
>dramatic sequence. Apparently--meaning, we only learn this
>later!--Othello had chosen NOT to take Iago into his confidence during
>the period of the secret wooing. Cassio was not just Othello's chosen
>officer, but his chosen confidant. And yet in the first scene where we
>see Othello with Iago, Othello is (suddenly?) speaking to Iago in an
>unprecedentedly confidential ways: why?

We don't know that Othello has never treated Iago as his confidant
before, only that he treated Cassio as his confidant in wooing
Desdemona.  We do have evidence that they're old comrades.  Perhaps
Othello just didn't think that a senior non-com with (as we later see) a
strong streak of misogyny wouldn't be the best person to ask about how
to woo a senator's daughter.

Cheers,
Se

 

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