Othello: the Abnormal Essay

Othello: the Abnormal Essay

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Othello: the Abnormal


Five Works Cited    William Shakespeare’s tragic drama Othello presents to the audience a very abnormal character in the person of Iago. Also can one classify the epileptic seizure of Othello as normal? Let us in this essay consider the abnormal in the play.

The abnormal behavior of the ancient is partly rooted in his misogynism. In “Historical Differences: Misogyny and Othello” Valerie Wayne implicates Iago in sexism. He is one who is almost incapable of any other perspective on women than a sexist one:

Iago’s worry that he cannot do what Desdemona asks implies that his dispraise of women was candid and easily produced, while the praise requires labour and inspiration from a source beyond himself. His insufficiency is more surprising because elsewhere in the play Iago appears as a master rhetorician, but as Bloch explains, ‘the misogynistic writer uses rhetoric as a means of renouncing it, and, by extension, woman.’ (163)

And how about epilepsy? In Act 4 the evil Iago works up Othello into a frenzy regarding the missing kerchief. The resultant illogical, senseless raving by the general is a prelude to an epileptic seizure or entranced state:

Lie with her? lie on her? – We say lie on her when they belie her. – Lie with her! Zounds, that’s fulsome. – Handkerchief – confessions – handkerchief! – To confess, and be hanged for his labor – first to be hanged, and then to confess! I tremble at it. [. . .] (4.1)

Cassio enters right after the general has fallen into the epileptic trance. Iago explains to him:

IAGO. My lord is fall’n into an epilepsy.

This is his second fit; he had one yesterday.

CASSIO. Rub him about the temples.

IAGO. No, forbear.

The lethargy must have his quie...


... middle of paper ...


...l find Iago peeping out from many of its pages. Still more, Iago’s name will be found appearing occasionally in bold print in books on abnormal psychology. (89-90)

 

WORKS CITED

 

Bevington, David, ed. William Shakespeare: Four Tragedies. New York: Bantam Books, 1980.

 

Campbell, Lily B. Shakespeare’s Tragic Heroes. New York: Barnes and Noble, Inc., 1970.

 

Coles, Blanche. Shakespeare’s Four Giants. Rindge, New Hampshire: Richard Smith Publisher, 1957.

 

Shakespeare, William. Othello. In The Electric Shakespeare. Princeton University. 1996. http://www.eiu.edu/~multilit/studyabroad/othello/othello_all.html No line nos.

 

Wayne, Valerie. “Historical Differences: Misogyny and Othello.” The Matter of Difference: Materialist Feminist Criticism of Shakespeare. Ed Valerie Wayne. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991.

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