First of all, Iago’s very words paint him for what he is. Robert Di Yanni in “Character Revealed Through Dialogue” states that the evil antagonist reveals his character quite plainly through his speech:
Iago’s language reveals his coarseness; he crudely reduces sexual love to animal copulation. It also shows his ability to make things happen: he has infuriated Brabantio. The remainder of the scene shows the consequences of his speech, its power to inspire action. Iago is thus revealed as both an instigator and a man of crude sensibilities. (123)
David Bevington in William Shakespeare: Four Tragedies enlightens us on the ancient:
Iago’s machinations yield him both “sport” and “profit” (1.3.387); that is, he enjoys his evildoing, although he is also driven by a motive. This Vice-like behavior inhuman garb creates a restless sense of a dark metaphysical reality lying behind his visible exterior. Even his stated motives do not always make sense. When in an outburst of hatred he soliloquizes that “I hate the Moor; / And it is thought abroad that twixt my sheets / He’s done my office,” Iago goes on to concede the unlikelihood of this charge. [. . .] The charge is so absurd, in fact, that we have to look into Iago himself for the origin of this jealous paranoia. (223)
And looking within Iago for the cause can yield the answer that the ancient is psychologically sick. In Shakespeare’s Four Giants Blanche Coles comments on the mental illness that appears to afflict the despicable Iago:
When such old...
... middle of paper ...
...s hellish villain, / The time, the place, the torture. O enforce it!”
The audience laments that Othello did not heed his original evaluation of the ancient at the beginning of the “temptation scene”: “There is some monster in his thought too hideous to be shown.”
Bevington, David, ed. William Shakespeare: Four Tragedies. New York: Bantam Books, 1980.
Coles, Blanche. Shakespeare’s Four Giants. Rindge, New Hampshire: Richard Smith Publisher, 1957.
Di Yanni, Robert. “Character Revealed Through Dialogue.” Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Reprint from Literature. N. p.: Random House, 1986.
Shakespeare, William. Othello. In The Electric Shakespeare. Princeton University. 1996. http://www.eiu.edu/~multilit/studyabroad/othello/othello_all.html No line nos.
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