Saturday, August 19, 2006

Reader's Diary #142- William Shakespeare: Othello (up to Act 3, Scene 1)



Before I began reading Othello, I expected my first posting would be somehow related to the board game, or the movie adaptation, O. Until now, those have been my only exposures to the play (and I enjoyed them both). But since, reading the first two acts I feel more compelled to write about Iago.

What I find most compelling about this villain is his pure and intelligent evil. What's pure about it (not an oxymoron), is the seeming absence of motivation! Unlike a lot of Shakespeare's plays in which evil intention is born out of greed, vengeance, jealousy and other typical roots, Iago's reasons are unclear. It makes him all the more intriguing. I find myself (nerdy as this is going to sound) waiting for his next soliloquy in hopes it might reveal some of what has provoked him. But when it doesn't come, instead of leaving me bitter, it draws me to him even more! There's just something so darn magnetic about an psychopath, isn't there? According to Wikipedia, I'm not the first to scour the play looking for some insight into his sinister character. But while many theories have been proposed, none seem to suffice. For though he does seem racist (if Iago was indeed black) and resentful over Othello's position, none of these or other theories seem sufficient. As motivators they are hardly dwelled upon at all (by Iago or any other character). It does, however, seem to have been an intent of Shakespeare to show how much Iago simply loved to manipulate people and stir up trouble. If Iago was manservant Hecubes, and I was Sir Simon Mulligan, I'd be pointing at him and saying, "Evil! Evil!" just about now.

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