The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0138 Tuesday, 22 January 2002
Date: Monday, 21 Jan 2002 12:22:24 -0500
Subject: 13.0120 Re: Ancient Iago
Comment: Re: SHK 13.0120 Re: Ancient Iago
I would concur with Ed Taft's suggestion that Iago is lying about having
attempted to win the promotion, although, to be sure, it presupposes
that Roderigo knows nothing about military ranks (not a stretch: when
teaching the play, I ask my students about contemporary rank structures
and very few understand the distinction between commissioned and
non-commissioned officers; after all, we live in a meritocracy . . . ).
This reading also makes sense in the rest of the work. Not one
character in the play seems to be even the slightest embarrassed by the
fact that Iago is, supposedly, a disappointed candidate: Othello,
arrived in Cyprus, sends Iago off to get the bags without a thought,
gives him letters to deliver, etc. Cassio, albeit somewhat awkwardly,
feels free to talk with Iago about his reputation. Desdemona isn't
embarrassed with Emilia. And so, Iago, I would suggest, in not perhaps
telling the truth about his career disappointment . . . .
Now, that doesn't mean that Iago doesn't resent the fact that Cassio
swans into Venice with his curling-iron, gets the commission, and, after
a perfunctory time of service, is elevated to the position of governor.
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