The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0446  Wednesday, 12 August 2009

From:       Joseph Egert <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
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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