Shakespeare’s Othello, with its prolonged exposure to the evil mind of Iago, is difficult for some in the audience. Let’s consider the play’s evil aspect.
In the Introduction to The Folger Library General Reader’s Shakespeare, Louis B. Wright and Virginia A. LaMar explain the single, evil focus of the drama – the arch-villainy of the ancient:
Othello has been described as Shakespeare’s most perfect play. Critics of dramatic structure have praised it for its attention to the main theme without irrelevant distractions. Many Elizabethan plays had rambling subplots and much extraneous detail to amuse the groundlings. Othello avoids all irrelevancies and the action moves swiftly from the first scene to the denouement. We never get lost in a multiplicity of incidents or a multitude of characters. Our attention remains centered on the arch villainy of Iago and his plot to plant in Othello’s mind a corroding belief in his wife’s faithlessness. (viii)
Even the imagery in the drama has its evil aspect. Kenneth Muir, in the Introduction to William Shakespeare: Othello, explains the instances of diabolic imagery in the play as they relate to the infecting of the Moor by the ancient:
The same transference from Iago to Othello may be observed in what S. L. Bethell called diabolic imagery. He estimated that of the 64 images relating to hell and damnation – many of them are allusions rather than strict images – Iago has 18 and Othello 26. But 14 of Iago’s are used in the first two Acts, and 25 of Othello's in the last three. The theme of hell originates with Iago and is transferred to Othello only when Iago has succeeded in infecting the Moor with his jealousy. (22) ...
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...rsity. 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.
Wilson, H. S. On the Design of Shakespearean Tragedy. Canada: University of Toronto Press, 1957.
Wright, Louis B. and Virginia A. LaMar. “The Engaging Qualities of Othello.” Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1996. Reprint from Introduction to The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice by William Shakespeare. N. p.: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1957.
-- -- --. Introduction. The Folger Library General Reader’s Shakespeare: The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice. New York: Washington Square Press, 1957.
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