The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0446 Wednesday, 12 August 2009
Date: Tuesday, 11 Aug 2009 13:02:10 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 20.0442 Iago as Dramatist/Performer
Comment: Re: SHK 20.0442 Iago as Dramatist/Performer
When Louis Swilley asks:
"When the character addresses the audience directly -- as Richard in
Richard III and Iago in Othello -- doesn't that make the audience a
character in the play? If so, what are the consequences of *that*?"
he evinces a proper understanding of the nature of theater. Characters,
as portrayed, may address the audience directly in soliloquies, asides,
prologues, epilogues, choruses, etc. Here the audience may assume the
role of silent conspirator as well as auditor, viewer, appreciator, and
What then is character? It is an identity constructed by the writer or
playwright, realized perhaps imperfectly by the actors and interpreted
by the recipient, again, perhaps imperfectly, in correspondence with or
deviation from authorial intent. Literary critics also interpret
character by arguing about such things as underlying motives, back
stories, and intentions. While most such things may remain unknowable
with absolute certainty, they are not inherently so, depending on the
available evidence and their proper scholarly assessment.
To suggest that a "character directly addresses the audience" in certain
instances is by no means nonsensical. Such direct address can most often
strengthen the identification between the two parties and thereby
enhance the experience.
Thanks to David Crosby for a contrary view.
"Ineducable" Joe Egert
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