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Home :: Archive :: 2009 :: August ::
Iago as Dramatist/Performer
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0434  Wednesday, 5 August 2009

[1] From:   Martin Mueller <
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     Date:   Tuesday, 4 Aug 2009 14:13:08 -0500
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0429 Iago as Dramatist/Performer

[2] From:   David Evett <
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     Date:   Tuesday, 4 Aug 2009 17:08:37 -0400
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0429 Iago as Dramatist/Performer


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Martin Mueller <
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Date:       Tuesday, 4 Aug 2009 14:13:08 -0500
Subject: 20.0429 Iago as Dramatist/Performer
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0429 Iago as Dramatist/Performer

This is a topic with a venerable history, and Bernard Spivack's 
_Shakespeare and the Allegory of Evil_ is probably still a good place to 
start.

Plays, and particularly comic plays, often have 'playmaker' characters. 
The tricky slave of Roman comedy and the vice character of the morality 
plays are examples. The playmaker character shares with the playwright a 
delight in complex situations, how to create them, how to twist them, 
how to resolve them.

It may be the case that Shakespeare has a particularly strong 
metatheatrical interest in this motif. In the _Midsummer Night's Dream_ 
and in the _Tempest_ the playmaker character is split into a high and a 
low role: Oberon/Puck and Prospero/Ariel. Then there are the villains 
from Richard through Jago to Edmund. Theatrical metaphors come easily to 
their minds.

If there is something special about Jago in this context it may be his 
self-effacing character. The monstrous Gloucester of Richard III, the 
handsome Gloucester of Lear that Regan and Goneril can't keep their 
hands off  -- these are in different ways flashier than 'honest' Jago 
who does his theatrical work as unobtrusively as possible. The best 
plotters, whether in life or in drama, are invisible.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       David Evett <
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Date:       Tuesday, 4 Aug 2009 17:08:37 -0400
Subject: 20.0429 Iago as Dramatist/Performer
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0429 Iago as Dramatist/Performer

You might look at the chapter (7) that looks closely at Iago in my book, 
_Discourses of Service in Shakespeare's England_ (London and NY: 
Palgrave-Macmillan, 2005); the analysis investigates a principle of 
dramatic behavior, which I rather clumsily call "volitional primacy," 
that appears in the activity of many other important Shakespearean 
characters, and of which an important element is the kind of 
stage-management we observe in Iago.

David Evett

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