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Iago In Othello. Essay

2072 words - 8 pages

Iago in Othello--the Representative of the Extreme HumanityMany years ago, when Shakespeare's Othello was shown in one of the big theatres of London, an irritated military officer suddenly stood up from the auditorium, pulled out his pistol and shot at "Iago", who was performing on the stage, then the officer used the same pistol to kill himself. Both them died, and they were respectively chosen as "the greatest actor and the greatest audience" of the year.The above story, I hear of it from a friend. Actually I do not know whether it is true or not, but I believe the possibility of it. Of all the characters created by Shakespeare in his plays, Iago is the most impressive one to me. In Iago there is something deep that makes him outstanding from other evil characters in Shakespeare's plays. He represents some extremity of humanity.Freud has the theory of sadism and masochism, saying that these two kinds of psychology are basic instinct of human beings. From this angle to analyze Iago, his behaviors are sadomasochistic. This is apparent in his paralleled relationships with Cassio, Desdemona and Othello. Iago has a mental habit--rigidly categorizing people into two kinds--those foolish enough to get used and abused, i.e. victims, and those clever enough to do the using and abusing themselves, i.e. victimizers. Yet he himself, as we notice right from the start of the play, exploits the practical advantages of both. Sometimes he claims that others have criminally stabbed him and sometimes he likes to think of himself as having absolute governance over himself and his world, according to the current cases. He assumes that life only consists in hurting others or getting hurt oneself, and this is reflected in his every speech and action--his most characteristic verbs being those such as "gyve", "ensnare", "enfetter", "enmesh" and the like.Iago's interaction with Cassio is paradigmatic of his method. Cassio is one of those "duteous and knee-crooking knaves" whom Iago despises, and yet he has succeeded in filling his space. Cassio is a "proper" man, sexually attractive, who "hath a daily beauty in his life" "That makes me ugly" (5.1.19-20). The villain, therefore, proceeds to deface that beauty and put ugliness in its stead. Cassio sustains thereby the disfiguration he most dreads: in reputation he is hurt "past all surgery." Later this is extended to bodily wounding when Cassio is "maim'd for ever" (5.1.28). After his dismissal, in any event, Cassio has foisted on him a new identity as Desdemona's secret lover. This is entirely a projection of Iago, based on his own fantasies. Iago warms to the excitement of inventing Cassio's dream-life:In sleep I heard him say, "Sweet Desdemona,Let us be wary, let us hide our loves";And then, sir, would he gripe and wring my hand;Cry, "O sweet creature!" then kiss me hard,As if he pluck'd up kisses by the rootsThat grew upon my lips; then laid his legOver my thigh, and sigh'd, and kiss'd, and thenCried, "Cursed fate...

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