Ominous Evil in Othello

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Ominous Evil in Othello

In William Shakespeare’s tragic drama Othello the presence of ominous evil is present in the play from opening scene to closing scene. Let us discuss this concept of evil as manifested in the drama.

H. S. Wilson in his book of literary criticism, On the Design of Shakespearean Tragedy, addresses the character of the general’s ancient:

With such a man everything is food for his malice. There is no appeasing him. His ego feeds upon the misfortunes he contrives for others, and what he feeds on only makes him hungrier. He is proof against pity and remorse alike, as his last interview with Desdemona and his sullen defiance of his captors at the end only too painfully show us. In short, he is the demi-devil that Othello finally calls him, half a devil and half a man; yet the littleness in each of his components is formidable, spider-like, and appallingly human besides. (54)

In the essay “Wit and Witchcraft: an Approach to Othello” Robert B. Heilman unveils the evil awaiting the reader in Othello:

Reason as an ally of evil is a subject to which Shakespeare keeps returning, as if fascinated, but in different thematic forms as he explores different counter-forces. ]. . .] Although Iago, as we saw, does not take seriously the ennobling power of love, he does not fail to let us know what he does take seriously. When, in his fake oath of loyalty to "wrong'd Othello," he vows "The execution of his wit, hands, heart" (III.3.466), Iago's words give a clue to his truth: his heart is his malice, his hands literally wound Cassio and kill Roderigo, and his wit is the genius that creates all the strategy. (338)

By an extraordinary composition of character Shakespeare has made Iago, literally or symbolically, share in all these modes of evil. And in Iago he has dramatized Dante’s summary analysis: “For where the instrument of the mind is joined to evil will and potency, men can make no defense against it.” But he has also dramatized the hidden springs of evil action, the urgency and passion and immediacy of it. He contemplates too the evildoer’s “potency” and man’s defenselessness: but these he interprets tragically by making them, not absolute, but partly dependent on the flaws or desire of the victims themselves. (343)

First of all, Iago’s very words paint him for what he is.
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