THE MOTIVATION OF IAGO?
Everyone knows that Iago "hates the Moor," but if Bloom is right and Shakespeare invented personality, perhaps we might ask why he does:
And so on....
1. An astute former colleague, Juliet Amann, argues that he fits the profile of an abuser of women.
2. I saw the production of Othello at the Folger Theater in Washington, D.C. with Patrick Stewart (Capt. Picard) as Othello. All of the racial slurs by Iago were retained. Is Iago a racist?
ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:
1. What does Coleridge say about Iago?
2. Is Iago more concerned with end results or the process of achieving them?
3. Note the importance of Iago's soliloquies: are they typical of what other major figures in Shakespeare say?.
4. How much do we (should) we admire Iago? Othello? Desdemona?
5. Study the Machiavellian influence very carefully.
6. What is the most serious limitation that Othello has?
7. What is Iago's greatest "asset"?
8. What motif is used dozens of times in OTHELLO? Why?
9. Everyone says this play is about jealousy? Is it?
10. What qualities of Othello and Desdemona lead directly to their downfall; does Iago really win?
11. Note the importance of WIT and WITCHCRAFT in this play.
12. Why are biblical allusions so important in this play?
13. Be sure you have the theme passage identified, and Iagos reaction to it.
COLERIDGE speaks of "motiveless malignancy," and Bloom offers (Shakespeare: the Invention of the Human) the following observations:
"IAGO'S GREATNESS is that he is out ahead of us, though every newspaper and television newscast brings us accounts of his disciples working on every scale, from individual crimes of sadomasochism to international terrorism and massacre. Iago's followers are everywhere."
I saw years ago a production of OTHELLO in Washington D.C. wherein James Earl Jones did Othello, and Christopher Plummer played Iago. The audience was so engrossed with the Iago, that during the exposure scene in Act V, they were booing. They did not want him to be caught.
We may have our clue here, and the project will be to demonstrate how with Iago, Shakespeare was once again very much ahead of his time. Modern psychiatry is just beginning to label what Shakespeare already knew.
There are several passages in OTHELLO that may help us. Consider:
I, iii, 320-333
III ,i, 180-196
V, i, 1-23
V, ii, 335-353
IF YOU NEED ADDITIONAL HELP WITH THE TEXT, THE NEXT LINK ON THIS SITE UNDER 'OTHELLO' PROVIDES A MORE DETAILED ANALYTIC FRAMEWORK AND ONLINE RESOURCES: