• 1 entry for a “C”; 2 entries for a “B”; 3 entries for an “A”.
  • Length:  Each entry must be a minimum of 3 full paragraphs
  • Paragraphs:  Each paragraph must be 5+ sentences.
  • Any entry that is less than 3 paragraphs — and entries with paragraphs less than 5 sentences – are not guaranteed credit.

CHALLENGE: Share with everyone a little about what you’ve discovered so far in your research re: Macbeth (per 4 & 7) or Othello (per 1, 2, 3).  Do the following:

  1. Identify the author and title of the article.
  2. 1 paragraph:  summarize the article (thesis and core ideas).
  3. 2 paragraphs:  identify & react to 2 ideas you found interesting.


  1. “Bloom on Iago from Othello”
    By: Harold Bloom

    Initially in his article, Bloom emphasizes how Iago is a “great emphasizer” and that his original goal was not the destruction of the Moor or Desdemona. Instead, Bloom makes the point that Iago’s fury has blossomed out of resentment and Iago’s feeling of unworthiness when Cassio is preferred before him, because for Iago, “his religion is war, and his god is Othello”. Iago worships his Captain, Othello, and even though Bloom claims that Othello has done nothing to Iago, Iago’s reverence of Othello has become a “hatred and a spur to revenge”. Furthermore, Bloom states that since war is everything to Iago, Othello, Iago’s ‘god’, must be everything as well. When Cassio is preferred over Iago, this makes Iago become nothing and starts Iago’s “incessant war…against being itself” and Iago identifies this ‘being’ with Othello.

    In the article, Bloom expands on how Shakespeare exalts in the purity of arms, the great magnitude of Othello, and his perfection in the field of battle and war. This causes Iago to believe in nothing but his Captain, love nothing but his Captain, and destroy his Captain as a “negative affirmation of the reality of the God of War” and a negative exaltation in Othello as his Captain. Bloom argues that Iago’s worship of the Moor is expressed through his hatred and that Iago hates his God, but still believes in him. Within this, Bloom states how Iago’s worship “demands expression through a passion for destruction” which sparks the being that is Iago. Also, Bloom argues how “Iago’s motive is sublime”, through his debasement, his humiliation, and the destruction of the only authority Iago believes in, Iago attempts to achieve “nothing less than the death of God”. Iago is surprised and delighted in the ease with which he manipulates and completes his goal, which Bloom argues causes Iago to lose the “reverence and passion for the magnitude of what he was ruining” and that is what creates the scale of destruction that blossoms out of Iago’s mind. It is this delight and ease that Iago finds in manipulation that “traps [him] also in his own web”, bringing about Iago’s own demise and putting him into the situation in which he secludes himself in silence.

    “The permanent mystery of Shakespeare’s tragedy is that Othello has done nothing to Iago, except failed to give him preference over Cassio. Yet in a perspective granted by the negative theology of war-as-religion, Iago’s malignancy is anything but motiveless. For Iago, God or Othello is everything, because war is everything, and if Othello prefers Cassio, then Iago is nothing.”
    (pg. 1 of 5)

    I do not agree that Iago did not feel slighted by Othello in any other way. It can be argued that Iago’s hatred was because of Othello’s race, the supposed affair between Othello and Emilia, and even a possible sexual desire that Iago held for Othello, even though Bloom dismisses this as a “useless…notion”. I argue this point because, in my opinion, there is no justification that “war is everything” to Iago in Othello. Without that conviction, Bloom’s argument has no foundation, Othello would not be Iago’s god and Othello preferring Cassio could not be the singular reason for Iago’s hatred and consequent manipulation and destruction.

    I also disagree with Bloom’s claim that Iago is “anything but motiveless”. While it is entirely probable that there is some ‘greater’ cause or event that inspired Iago’s hatred, Bloom does not explore the possibility of a meaningless hatred. If war is not everything to Iago, then Othello is not his god, so it can not be claimed that Iago’s hatred is simply the “fury of the priest or worshipper who has been found unworthy”. Iago’s hatred may be inexplicable and unreasonable. All attempts of Iago to justify his hatred and for others to explain it could be just humanity’s need to explain something that we do not know. It could be mankind’s need to reveal the truth behind something that confuses us and terrifies us. Iago’s hate does this to humans because we are afraid of how real Iago’s hate was and the real ramifications that were produced by this hate, the deaths of Desdemona, Othello, Emilia, and even Iago himself.

    “Reconcilement with Othello is not possible, Iago realizes, because it is Othello who must atone for the rejection of Iago. The degradation of God, a Gnostic concept, is Iago’s project: the involuntary atonement of Othello through his debasement. The murder of Othello is not, cannot be Iago’s project.”
    (pg. 3 of 5)

    Here, Bloom claims that Iago never wanted to see Othello die. This follows one of Bloom’s initial points that Iago “does not set out to become the Moor, or to destroy the Moor”. To Iago, the destruction of the Moor was not meant to be the death of him, but the destruction of who Othello is and what he loves. Iago did not seek the death of the Moor because he did not believe that death was the way to satisfy his hatred. Iago’s goal is not to kill Othello, but to debase and humiliate Othello while convincing him of the impurities of his wife.

    In accordance to Bloom’s point that it was the rejection of Iago that caused this “hatred and a spur to revenge”, Bloom claims in this quotation that Iago is trying to achieve the atonement of Othello, and Othello needs to atone for rejecting Iago. Othello is the subject of Iago’s hatred, so he is the one that must pay. I do agree with Bloom in the fact that Iago was not seeking Othello’s death, if you hold an extreme hatred for someone, it is not enough to just wish them not to exist. As humans, we like to see the complete degradation of what we hate, more so than the ultimate result. We revel in the fall from greatness, the fall from the stars, more so than we take delight in the moment that person hits the bottom of the world and no longer exists. If Othello is simply killed, Iago can not have what he wants, which is Othello’s atonement. Even though I do not agree in the idea that Iago has a set motive, I believe that even a motiveless Iago would rather see the humiliation of Othello to all of Venice than his death.

  2. Dennis F. Bormann
    ‘Thou Art a Villain’: From the Ensign to Iago–Blood Changes in Othello

    Here, Bormann investigates the complete meaning of Villian in the sixteenth century, and applies it to Othello’s Iago. He explores both ethical sense of the word and the class sense of the word. Villian means both a morally corrupt person, and a person of low class birth. Bormann states that in Shakespeare’s day his audience would be familiar with both meanings of the word and would have applied them both to any character called a villian. He also makes the intriguing point that Iago is the only Shakespearen antagonist every referred to directly as a villian.

    Bormann atatches this to certain traits about Iago, like the fact that he is one of few characters to speak in free verse. This may indicate why he sees himself as so divided from soceity because he is not of the same status as all the other characters. It also provides a reason as to why Othello would not have chose Iago as his luietenent, the act that supposedly sparked Iago’s manipulations throughout the play. His status is again seen in his relationship with his wife who eventually betrays him. Also in his vulgar comments and unfamiliarity with manners that Cassio displays with Desdemona.
    Bormann then claims that Iago is able to “poisen” Othello with his “baseness” and drive him to perform low deeds. He ends his article with bringing attention to the fact that Shakespeare’s plays can not be analyzed without Shakespeare’s own class descriptions and biases in mind.

    ” Othello is no exception; what is suggested by these changes in blood matters is that Iago is a villain in the class sense as well as in the ethical sense.”

    Several factors support and develop this interpretation: Iago has no understanding of social graces; his language is gross and unattractive, unfitting for a gentleman; he is put down repeatedly in a class sense; he fails to stand up for himself when various members of the play directly attribute him with being base in origin, a slur no gentleman could endure; there is a lack of family solidarity–he and Emilia are not one spirit intertwined; like Shakespearean villains in general, he is without issue; he is passed over for the lieutenancy, a commission which would have bestowed on him the rank of gentleman;”

    I chose this article because this idea was quite attractive to me. I had never considered Iago as being of a lower class, I simply believed him to be sepereated by the way that he thought. This proved that the way others viewed Iago impacted the way he behaved. I do agree with the examples Bormann lists and found numerous others in the text as well. I believe that this interpretation may offer clues to why Iago was so seperated from all around him.

    I also chose this quote because I found that Iago in comparison with a gentleman was quite ammusing. However, much of this could br left up to the reader’s interpretation of what being a gentleman entails. The fact that other characters slur Iago and he does not respond, may simply be that his manpulations would not work if he was known as explosive and not, “honest, honest, Iago”. Also this view does little to explain why so many characters would view him so highly and want to take his advice if he was of so much lower a birth.

    This idea is still very enthralling to me and I believe it is important to be able to view Shakespeare through the window of society in which he wrote, but The respect iago draws makes this seem a little unbelievable.

    “Iago does not care for his reputation. This is in direct contrast to Cassio, who laments the loss of his commission: “I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial”

    Iago replies, “Reputation is an idle and most false imposition” (II.ii.262). That Iago can make such a statement is telling in regard to the thesis of the present argument. As Henry Peacham wrote in The Compleat Gentleman, “There is no thing that setteth a fairer stampe upon Nobilitie then evenesse of carriage and care of our Reputation”;28 to be without reputation is to be “dead long before we are buried.”

    At first I could only see my previous argument with this quote. I was, however, drawn to it because of its focus on reputation. I found that reputation is what made Iago’s manipulations plausible. If the other charcters in Othello had not valued their own reputations Iago never would have been able to complete his plot. This opened up the idea to me that another thing that made Iago’s manipulations possible and uneffective on himself was his lack of care of reputation. This again agreed with Bormann and his base view of Iago, that all gentleman would have cared for their reputations.

    Looking back over the play it was quite interesting to notice that almost everything that Iago was able to make people do was in fact caused by their want of preserving their reutations. As a driving force of the play, it indicates that though Iago may have been the only character activley advancing the plot all others were because of their psychologies passively moving it towards its eventual end.

    Again the view that Iago doesn’t care about his reputation because he is base seems to fit except that again Iago has developed such a high reputation with all the characters in the play.

  3. “Othello (1604)” By: Charles Boyce.

    Boyce States that in this play, Iago destroys Othello’s trust; “the cement that holds people together.” This leads to the destruction of two people and their love for each other. This theme of broken trust is mirrored in the relationships between several other characters and how their jealousy spreads. Boyce mentions relationships like Cassio and Bianca, Iago and Emilia and most importantly Othello and Desdemona. Boyce notes that Venice, the setting early in the play was a society that was both prejudiced and obsessed with commercial values and therefore somewhat devoid of humanities virtues. Despite these flaws, “greed and racism” and jealousy and basic human reactions and nature the society does provide a place where Othello can retain his position and marry Desdemona despite. Despite the chaos that ultimately occurs Boyce mentions that order is again restored as Othello realizes the error in both his judgment and actions.

    “Jealousy, the play’s central motif, is simply a particularly virulent form of interpersonal distrust”.

    Jealousy is routinly seen throughout the play. Iago is the character that most frequently exhibits this trait. Boyce is obviously hinting that jealousy is a deadly thing to happen in this play. He makes it seem that Iago’s jealousy is only hurting himself. Boyce also hints that Iago’s jealousy is poisonus to himself. When I explore Boyce’s quote further I feel that he was subtley hinting that Iago had a self image problem and because he was jealous he destroyed his own self first. By destroying his own self first it then lead him to be the malicious man that sabotages the others around him.

    “the traditional morality play, whose central character, usually symbolic of the human soul, is placed between an angel and a devil who each demand his loyalty.”

    Boyce makes a very good analogy here to Othello’s situation. Othello is conflicted almost the entire time throughout the play by Desdemona and Iago. Othello wants to believe Iago because he is a trusted fellow military man, but he also wants to trust Desdemona as she is his beautiful wife. Boyce talks about an angel and a devil each commanding loyalty and Othello symbolizes the central character as the ‘human soul’. Boyce hints that Iago would be the devil and Desdemona would be the angel, each influential in Othello’s life. Boyce makes his own allegory by making the comparison of Iago and Desdemona to the devil and an angel.

  4. W. H. Auden
    “Iago as a Practical Joker”

    Auden begins by stressing that Othello is far more centered on the antagonist than the protagonist. The play follows Iago in his attempt, and eventual success in ruining Othello’s life. After comparing Othello with other works of Shakespeare (based on the villains) Auden begins to question if Iago is a villain at all. Iago’s only tools in manipulating his victims are words and deception. Auden continues by giving the definition of a practical joke, claiming that they involve deception but some sort of revelation after their deed has been done. Though Iago’s tricks were essentially harmless there was no revelation after his “practical joke”, bringing some uncertainty to whether or not a practical joker is the most accurate label for Iago. Regardless, Auden points out that success of the joker depends on how well he/she can estimate the character of others, something that Iago definitely knows how to do.

    “The fall of Othello is the work of another human being; nothing he says or does originates with himself. In consequence we feel pity for him but no respect; our aesthetic respect is reserved for Iago.”

    This quote caught my eye the very first time I skimmed through Auden’s article because I definitely felt more respect towards Iago than towards Othello. Othello appeared to have an unspoken feeling of superiority. An example of this is when Brabantio found out that Othello had married his daughter. When Brabantio found out that his daughter was married to Othello, it was no surprise that he was upset. As customary of the time period, Othello was expected to ask Brabantio for his daughter’s hand in marriage, a stage in the proposal that he missed. When Othello was informed that Desdemona’s “raisèd father and his friends” were angry and coming for him he responds with complete apathy, believing his status and the law will protect him. (1.2)

    “The practical joker despises his victims, but at the same time he envies them because their desires, however childish and mistaken, are real to them, whereas he has no desire which he can call his own.”

    I found this idea to be both intriguing and complex but I doubt that Iago had no desires of his own. Wasn’t his desire throughout the entire play to destroy Othello?

    It is also unlikely that Iago despised Othello. He may have been upset because he did not get the lieutenant position he wanted. He may even have been upset because Othello might have slept with his wife. However, this as the cause of his anger is unlikely especially since Iago shows no signs that he even values his wife throughout the play; constantly commenting on her uncertain infidelity as if it were a joke.

  5. ‘The Humiliation of Iago’
    By Karl F. Zender

    Karl F. Zender’s article theorizes that humiliation could have taken a role as one of Iago’s motives. He especially looks at the role it play’s in making Iago want to kill Desdemona, because before he only wanted revenge on Othello. In the conversation that takes place in Scene II lines 83-181, Karl F. Zender says that Desdemona humiliates Iago. According to Karl F. Zender the language that Iago uses is inferior to the language that Desdemona, Othello, and Cassio use. He points out that they all have a higher social status than Iago. He says that this conversation and the humiliation that comes from it caused Iago to feel hatred towards Desdemona.

    In this article Karl F. Zender has two very interesting ideas.

    One of those ideas is that Iago treats Emilia poorly is to compensate for his own feelings of inferiority. Since Iago is of relatively low status he does not have much authority over anything. The only thing he has authority over is Emilia. He mistreats her as a way to make himself feel better. I never thought of that being the reason why Iago mistreats his wife. I thought that it was simply due to his hatred of women.

    Another idea is about why Iago wants Desdemona to be strangled than poisoned.

    Karl F. Zender says that if Desdemona was strangled her voice would let out before she dies. Her voice would be silenced and she would be punished for verbally humiliating Iago. The punishment would fit the crime. I never thought of it that way. I thought the reason for Iago wanting her strangled is because strangulation is loud and obvious compared to poisoning. I reasoned that Iago would want Othello to get caught red-handed, but if Desdemona was poisoned it would be very hard for anyone to point fingers at Othello. Now I realize the reason is more symbolic rather than practical.

  6. W. H. Auden
    “Iago as a Practical Joker”
    (apparently me and 4 think alike)

    Auden describes Iago as triumphant in accomplishing every goal he set out to achieve, including the complete responsibility for Othello’s downfall. Auden goes on to discuss the difference between a ‘bad guy’ and a practical joker, which is the revealing of crimes. A ‘ bad guy’ would simply flee while the practical joker will stay around to reveal the crimes before the scene is stale. The success of a practical joker, Auden explains, depends on the success of evaluating the weaknesses of the victims. Mostly, Auden states, the practical joker despises his victims but also is very envious of them. To succeed a practical joker must appear honest and be trusted such as how Iago was trusted by Othello. Auden then claims Iago has the right to destroy Othello because of his gained knowledge. He says that knowledge is a hard thing to live up to therefore who in society could tell Iago no to his actions.

    *“The criminal is a person who finds himself in a situation where he is tempted to break the law and succumbs to the temptation: he ought, of course, to have resisted the temptation, but everyone both on stage and in the audience must admit that, had they been placed in the same situation, they too, would have been tempted.”*

    This quote gives a little acceptance and repentance toward Iago actually. By saying that anyone would succumb to the temptation is saying Iago could have been anyone. Though Iago is a master villain and brilliant to the point that it is scary, it is not really fair for anyone to say he was wrong in his actions. The punishment for Iago then seems hypocritical if everyone in the human race would do the same when thrown into similar situations. This quote gives kind of easy relation to Iago because he was feeling pain, and to fill the void he carelessly decided to destroy someone’s life.

    *“The two men digging up the street, for example, might have been two burglars who wished to recover some swag which they knew to have been buried there. But in that case, having found what they were looking for, they would have departed quietly and never been heard of again, whereas, if they are practical jokers, they must reveal afterwards what they have done or the joke would be lost.”*

    This quote is the most contradictory quote in the whole piece. This whole criticism is trying to prove Iago as a practical joker yet this quote says the complete opposite of Iago. This quote is saying that practical jokers feel the impulse to reveal their actions for fear the attention would die down. Iago, when caught, refused to speak of what he did claiming “what you know you know.” If this is true about practical jokers, then Iago was not really a practical joker at all. Now the name which sounds way less horrible is gone and Iago is simply a skilled malicious manipulator.

  7. Macbeth
    Date: 1606
    Author: William Shakespeare
    From: Critical Companion to William Shakespeare: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work, Critical Companion.

    The author thinks Macbeth was the study in the human potential for evil. The evil exists outside the protagonist in the world of black magic, represented most strikingly by the witches and the dark side of humans. The witches represent the evil that made Macbeth’s human nature become evil, because they have the answers to his need for power. He listened to his prophets who prophesized that he would become king and take over the king’s power. Macbeth’s dark human nature made his emotions change. He becomes a devil who only wants blood and power. The road he walks on was set up by the witches and a supernatural power that is beyond a human’s ability to control. The supernatural power forced Macbeth’s heart into a deep darkness where he cannot recover from.

    Another big reason force behind Macbeth’s descent into darkness was Lady Macbeth. She makes Macbeth kill the king. She is the one who forces Macbeth to put on the dark mask. If Macbeth didn’t wear the mask, the king and other innocent people will not die and Macbeth will not become a devil. The mask is the evil that controlled him and his emotions. He cannot get rid of it until his death.

    Quote number one:

    Macbeth is a study of the human potential for evil

    This first sentence drew my attention, because I totally agree with the author. Shakespeare really understands the human nature. In this poem he describes the deep side of the human thinking, which is evil and dirty caused by various outside pressures. Macbeth was a good man before, but his contact with the witches and prophets caused his evil thoughts. Plus Lady Macbeth’s idea to kill the king leads him down a path where he cannot return and caused him forget himself behind a mask. When you are thinking or doing bad things, you are always wearing the mask, because you don’t want anybody to see your true self. But you will find out that after wearing the mask for a long times, you cannot live without it. You need it to lie as lying is part of your life, and you cannot stop lying. Macbeth was the one who cannot take his mask off, because his dark mind totally controlled him. Once he takes off the mask, he will be defeated. That’s why he wanted to stay behind his evil personality.

    Quote number 2

    The supernatural world is the most extreme example of power that is beyond human control

    At this world we all know that supernatural was not really exist,. Still have a lot of people believe in that. In the Macbeth Shakespeare use witches to describe as the supernatural, and now we said that the witches are represents the dark side of the human. Shakespeare is using the supernatural to describe the dark side of the personality. The dark personality has very strong power, when you fall into, it’s impossible to get out. It will start destroy your mine first. When your mine had been taking over, the rest of your body will be taken soon. The power is undefeatable. The only way to prevented is not to wear the mask. But that was impossible, who didn’t lie in his whole life? That’s why we are so aware of the evil human nature, that’s why we want to get rid of it. The dark evil thought will not help you. It will not gain any power to you. You just get control by it, you will lose everything. When you fall into it, which is too late to regret.

  8. Evans On Othello’s Marriage
    By: K. W. Evans

    Evans’ views on Othello’s “strange marriage” center mostly around how it reveals the suppressed prejudices of the Venetian people, and how those prejudices ultimately bring down Othello. Evans points out the undeniable truth that before Othello married ‘one of their own’ no one had a problem with him, and afterward few people remained loyal to him. This prejudice remains despite Othello’s “military rank, royal ancestry, and Christian faith.” It is also brought up that whenever this new hostility is expressed, it centers around race and not much else. The article then focuses on Brabantio and Iago’s hate for Othello, which Evans believes are both centered around race. Brabantio because his daughter has married an outsider, and Iago because it emphasizes his inadequacy. (Quotes from page 1)

    QUOTE ONE:“Although his hatred of Othello antedates the marriage, he acts upon his hatred now, because the very nature of the marriage excites the feelings of sexual and social envy that govern his character.”

    This quote caught my eye because it is one that helps reveal more possible motivations for Iago’s actions, which fascinate me. I had settled on a jealous possession of Othello, but this discusses simple jealousy. I must agree that it is very possible that Iago feels inadequate compared to Othello in all departments, including marriage. What I think is what really gets Iago is that it is not just a marriage he is jealous of, it is a black man’s marriage, and that kills him. Despite race, Othello has managed to marry a beautiful Venetian woman, and the white Iago’s marriage is unstable and unhealthy.

    QUOTE TWO: “On [Brabantio’s] reckoning, Othello is simply a barbarian, and believing in a rigid natural hierarchy of men he will not judge Othello on his merits as a man of honour.”

    I chose this quote because the reality is so sadly true. I had not thought about Brabantio that much before, but now I realize that race is in fact the only reason he is so tortured. He know Othello is a good man because before Othello married his daughter, he thought he was very respectable and honorable. After the marriage he becomes so blinded by views that have no justification, and can no longer see Othello’s good qualities. I find it even more unbelieveable that he is so incredibly disturbed by his daughter marrying a black man that he dies from grief. I cannot understand why it is such a big deal when Othello is perfectly good at heart. The quote says that Brabantio thinks that Othello is a barbarian, but it is interesting that he was civilized enough to be the best of the best military wise. In this world, a man is welcome until marriage is brought to the table, and then he is nothing to you.

  9. Author: William Richardson
    Title : On the Character of Macbeth

    In this article, William Richardson talks about how Macbeth changes through the course of the play. He says that at first, Macbeth seems heroic and “dutiful to his sovereign”, but then he becomes vindictive. Richardson presents the idea that Macbeth changed his character completely, and for the worse. Richardson says that Macbeth’s greatest challenge is violence toward the opposing powers. William Richardson suggests that the reason for the fall of Macbeth, the reason he killed all those people, the reason he was weak when he thought he was at his strongest, was because of his inveterate ambition. Basically, Richardson repeats throughout the article that Macbeth ultimately lost all sense of compassion and decorum. Richardson presents a different idea about the decline of Macbeth as a result of his growing ambition.

    To me, Richardson gave the impression that he really didn’t think guilt was a factor in Macbeth’s descent. Respectfully, I would have to disagree with William Richardson on this topic because I felt that that was the main reason that Macbeth killed all of those people was because of his guilty conscience and was certainly the reason he seemed to have gotten greedy. Richardson mentions Macbeth not having any guilt, he states that the reason for the idea of assassination is ambition. At first, I would not allow this idea to be right because my mind was set on the fact that guilt was the only reason for his fall. However, after I read over it a few times I realized that he is right. Richardson convinces his readers that ambition has the biggest impact of Macbeth.

    I also thought it was interesting how William Richardson talks about Macbeth’s complete change. Again, I would have to disagree with this because Macbeth didn’t totally change, he had to accept some facts and may have over-reacted, however he did not undergo a complete transformation. I think it was a little unnecessary how he made this his main argument in the first paragraph. He blows this ‘change’ way out of proportion, over-exaggerating on every little aspect of Macbeth’s new self. I disagree with Richardson’s idea’s, however he makes very good, intelligent arguments about his own opinions and beliefs on this play.

  10. “Bloom on Iago from Othello”
    Harold Bloom

    Bloom’s main focus of this article is Iago and how he views Othello as both a man, and a god. Iago is considered by Bloom a “theatrical genius” (page 1 of 4) because of how he showcases and focuses on his own militarily accomplishments. He recognizes that Iago is an excellent improviser and uses it in the toughest of situations, and prevails in doing so. One of the initial points of Bloom’s argument though, is that Iago does not desire to become Othello, or even to destroy him. The character of Iago is much more complex and wholesome than that. This article states that Iago recognizes Othello as a god, his god. Iago is a man of war and therefore sees Othello as his God of War. Bloom argues that when Othello prefers Cassio instead of Iago, he is filled with absolute fury and believes the God of War “must be horribly punished” (page 2 of 4) for failure to acknowledge him as the ultimate warrior.

    The article argues that Iago, throughout the whole play, still holds a “reverence and passion” (page 3 of 4) for Othello the warrior and that is why the downfall of him is so intense for the reader. But still, Bloom makes sure to portray that Iago’s main goal is not to murder Othello, but to have the “degradation of God” (page 4 of 4), in this case that is the same as Othello. Blooms last and final point of the article is that the audience may shudder at the evils Iago has accomplished, but that, in essence, the audience is the great villain, Iago.

    “His religion is war, and his god is Othello.”

    This quote, in my opinion, is one of the most powerful statements throughout this article. It is less than ten words in all and does not say much, but at the same time it says everything. This sums up almost the whole article, and has so much depth behind it.

    I believe Bloom is saying that Iago’s mindset is centered on the concept of warfare, and therefore he worships Othello to an extent. Othello was brought to Venice from the outside and was an extraordinary warrior, and so Iago saw him as a god like figure since Othello had mastered what Iago highly respected. I believe this is a part of all our human nature to revere someone who is truly amazing at something that we admire. This concept to me is very easily understood because it is something we all experience and feel. At this point I, and possibly others may, begin to realize how Iago feels towards Othello. He loves and respects him, but at the same time he lets that worship turn into something vile like hatred and jealousy. I think that when Othello does not portray the same attitude towards Iago, and instead favors Cassio, he feels jealous and wants revenge on both Othello and Cassio. Cassio, though, is not a real threat to Iago and therefore he merely sees him as a pawn in order to get to Othello.

    When I think about this statement that Bloom made, I am more convinced this relates to human nature. If Iago fights for Venice, then essentially his whole life is centered around war and the military. Iago’s natural response to rejection is revenge. Revenge is something that everyone experiences within their lifetime. It is something that we desire, even if we don’t want to admit that to ourselves. We generally yearn to be better than others, and Iago just takes that natural feeling and makes it an extreme. He wants to see his God, Othello, suffer for not recognizing him. Iago, I believe, is very primal in that he is willing to do anything to get what he wants, including the destruction of others lives. As civilized beings in a structured society, we are restrained from committing certain acts. Iago, on the other hand, lets his instincts take control, and yet ultimately he succeeds in what he set out to accomplish.

    “For Iago, God or Othello is everything, because war is everything, and if Othello prefers Cassio, then Iago is nothing,”

    At first, I thought this quote to be quite simple to analyze. The meaning of each phrase is not convoluted and it is fairly simple to understand. Bloom seems to be saying that Othello, God, and Iago’s view of war are all intermingled and are the motivation for Iago’s essential plan. If Othello is Iago’s God of War, and Iago centers his life on war, then Iago must search for the approbation of Othello. If it is our natural want to be loved and appreciated, then it only makes sense that Iago desires this.

    After thoroughly reading this statement though, I found there to be more volume behind these simple words. I think that when Iago feels like he is nothing, he has reached the point of desperation. As a human he feels worthless and sorrowful, and I truly believe (from the information that Bloom has provided in this article) this sparks Iago to commit violent and malicious acts. Iago has proven to be a very intellectual character, and Shakespeare, in my opinion, has crafted the most glorious villain. The bottom is where Iago truly finds the inspiration to punish Othello for his supposed ignorance of Iago’s military talents. Shakespeare brings in all of the characteristics of a villain with the natural feelings of a person who has felt unwanted. In this way, the reader has a slight connection to Iago because they can relate to his inner feelings of being rejected by one he admires.

    Bloom makes no attempt to mention that Iago might be angry at Othello because of the rumor of him sleeping with his wife. Many other sources have said that to be one of the main motivations for wanting to bring down Othello, although the real reason behind it is something only Shakespeare may know. Instead, Bloom says that Cassio being chosen to be higher in command than Iago caused him to feel like nothing. Though the two theories are different from one another, both involve one reoccurring theme, motive for revenge. I think that both ways, Iago wanted revenge, and he used his manipulative powers to get it.

    Since Othello is viewed as a godlike figure to Iago, he feels betrayed. I think Bloom is trying to argue that this is the true reason behind Iago’s plan. He has compared other interpretations (mainly by C.L. Barber and Richard P. Wheeler) of his motivations, but disagrees with them. I agree with Bloom when he says that Iago craves the death of God because by doing so, he will have ultimately proved himself.

  11. Bloom, Harold.
    Iago’s Manipulations

    Bloom’s article, Iago’s Manipulations, primarily focuses on how Iago changes throughout the course of the drama. Bloom prompts us to ponder the question of how Iago has so effortlessly dominated others by capitalizing on their insecurities. Iago’s exploitations go off without a hitch until his wife so brazenly reveals his spiteful plot. Iago’s astonishing progress and eventual advance in genius leads up to the point at which he must prove to Othello that Desdemona has been unfaithful. Yet, he gets “trapped in his own web.” He becomes a victim of his own malevolence. His well thought-out plot eventually fails. Iago becomes mute, leaving the reader in a conundrum. The reader must now independently rationalize what motivated Iago’s spiteful acts. After Emilia has given Iago the handkerchief, he egotistically tells the audience how he revels in self delight as a master of manipulation. Iago preys upon Othello’s jealousy by infecting his mind with poisonous suggestions. Bloom claims that…”for this great moment, we are Iago…” If this is true, then we must all possess a pompous spirit when relishing our great accomplishments. Therefore, it becomes increasingly difficult for us to conclude that his narcissistic behavior is disdainful.

    “What makes The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice so harrowing a work is the total triumph of Iago, until he is brought down so unexpectedly by his wife’s outrage at the victimage of Desdemona.” (pg. 1)

    I agree with this quotation as I read the scene in which Iago’s well thought-out designs are unveiled by Emelia. Up until this time, Iago was victorious in manipulating everyone at will. No one had known that Iago was the source of all the confusion which ultimately ruined many relationships. Emelia’s revelation heightens the dramatic effect of Iago’s actions to a much more vexing level. Finally, Emilia is informed that Iago had told Othello the falsehood about Desdemona. Emilia slowly attempts to unwind Iago’s twisted psyche in an attempt to understand his malicious objective. I had assumed that Iago’s plan would never have been elucidated; for this, I was surprised when his deceitful plot was exposed.
    Perhaps Iago wanted his deception to be discovered. This would allow him to create murky confusion about the origin of his true motives. Once again, Iago could control the pace of the drama by leaving an unsolved conundrum. But then I think: Iago is neither that simple nor easy to understand. The reader is challenged to contemplate how the villain can be so cleverly evil and manically mysterious.

    “There is another side to this triumphalism, and that is the extent to which Iago, as great improviser, traps himself also in his own web.” (pg. 1)

    There is much truth in this quotation. Just like a spider that overestimates her prowess of agility, Iago could have (and eventually does) become confined in his own snare. Iago could have easily been condemned to death by Othello after relaying the baseless rumor about Desdemona. He risked his life to instill the jealous seed of wrath in Othello. It seems that his plan was not completely flawless, but rather chancy. In this particular event, we might entertain that Iago is not as savvy as we were originally led to believe, but instead very fortuitous.
    In Act III, scene iii, line 340, Iago says “This may do something.” This line may refer to two situations: the venomous lie about Desdemona may ruin Othello, or it may backfire on Iago. Since Iago’s plan initially went through successfully, Iago seemed further more intuitive. He predicted correctly that Othello would not “shoot the messenger.”

  12. “Othello’s Distinguishing Characteristics”
    -A.C. Bradley

    Bradley states that the act of Othello committing murder was inevitable because of how Shakespeare started off the play and was also due to Othello’s sexual jealousy towards Desdemona. He argues that the conflict of Othello starting off so late forces the play to reach its climactic end in a catastrophic manner. This is also aided with the fact that the comic relief put into Othello was little to none, hence the reason why Iago can never be looked upon as “comical”.
    Furthermore, the sexual jealousy that Othello inhibits throughout the play is considered by Bradley to act as a key that is able to “unlock” Othello’s hidden bestial savagery. Unable to suppress the monster inside him that has been instigated by the feeling of jealousy, Othello can only find solace through a “bestial thirst for blood”. Which causes the reader to experience the murder of Desdemona in a more violent manner. Desdemona’s innocence makes Othello’s anger more prominent; being unable to defend herself, Desdemona’s helplessness causes her suffering to become even more painful to be watched by the reader.

    Such jealousy as Othello’s converts human nature into chaos, and liberates the beast in man; and it does this in relation to one of the most intense and also the most ideal of human feelings.
    (pg. 1 of 3)

    When I first came across this quote I felt a more heartened sympathy towards Othello for what he did. I believed that Othello was doomed to make a mistake from the very beginning of the play ever since Iago decided to destroy his life. All of the lies that Iago created eventually caused Othello to become jealous of Desdemona. This jealousy eventually turned into hatred, which released a beast inside Othello that he wasn’t able to suppress. I wouldn’t say that Othello committed his crime out of anger, but I think that it was more out of frustration of being unable to find a solution to his problem. Othello even says so himself that he would’ve been fine if he knew that Desdemona slept with someone else, but because the truth is obscure Othello is unsure of what he should do and it’s driving him crazy. I could see how Othello would want to get rid of Desdemona, the source of all of his worries, because he couldn’t handle the fact of not knowing if his marriage was still as genuine as it was from the start. Othello’s nature is indeed thrown into chaos as soon as he is told by Iago that he suspects Desdemona might have been unfaithful to him. The lack of confidence with which Iago tells this to Othello throws him into a state of panic, depriving him of any rational thought and thus when Othello killed Desdemona, he wasn’t in his right state of mind. Instead, Othello’s focus became whatever it was that was causing him pain and suffering, which in his case was Desdemona. Shakespeare putting Othello into a more primal, instinctive state, acting more like an animal than a human shows how jealousy could indeed unleash the monster inside a person.

    Now in any novel or play, even if the persons rouse little
    interest and are never in serious danger, a skillfully worked
    intrigue will excite eager attention and suspense.
    (pg. 2 of 3)

    To be honest, I thought that this idea presented by Bradley was a bit obvious. Othello is a lot more powerful in the sense that instead of just merely instigating the audience’s attention and a feeling of suspense, the intrigue has a more powerful impact on the audience. That is because Iago, the intrigue in Othello, is different in the sense that he is in charge of the lives of the people around him and it all depends on what he does that will determine whether a person will live or perish. To say that Iago was a skillful intrigue in Othello would be much of an understatement. Iago wasn’t just clever, he was able to completely achieve his goal without being suspected in the process; and in addition, even when he was caught, he was invulnerable to accusations because he stayed quiet and did not say a word. I also found it intriguing when Bradley used this concept of intrigue to isolate Othello from all of the other Shakespearean plays by saying that it wasn’t as personal as the rest. I completely agree with Bradley on the idea that because Othello is “close to home”, being a drama set in modern life, it has a greater effect on us because we are able to relate the drama to ourselves. I believe that Shakespeare set the play in a modern society on purpose, so that his play could have the greatest impact possible on the reader.

  13. “The Ironic Equation In Shakespeare’s Othello”
    by Estelle W. Taylor

    Taylor opens the article by addressing Shakespeare’s emphasis on the threat of illusions. She praises the fact that Shakespeare is an expert at creating irony to be not only a method in literature, but also a tool in highlighting human flaws. Taylor then explains that Shakespeare’s characters are meant to reflect man in that they may start off noble, but are all vulnerable enough to succumb to the right lies as is illustrated in Othello. She also point out that although Iago is responsible for most of the false information in the play, we must not overlook the irony in the fact that Iago is the essential victim of exaggeration. Just like Othello, he sees only what he wants to see and creates “added incentives for revenge.” (pg. 3 of 7) As a result, irony and illusion serve as “the unifying element” (pg. 7 of 7) in Othello, showing the audience that destruction was not brought about by an evil in Iago or Othello, but a quality that is specific to man as a whole.

    “Thus, both reading and viewing audiences that themselves are no less susceptible to this force, nevertheless marvel that men, Shakespeare’s “heroes,” innately good an in almost all things else preeminently or reasonably wise, can succumb to that which to even the ordinary man is so obviously unreal.” (pg. 1 of 7)

    Initially this quote seems to be saying that Shakespeare wants the audience to see exactly how much information has been misconstrued to properly prove his point. The construction of a noble and respected character like Othello is important because it enables us to see that there comes a point when status and brains are not enough. Until now, I never really made the connection that although to us as the audience Othello is being highly irrational and he should take more time to find the truth, yet we overlook the fact that we are just as likely to find ourselves in this same dilemma. However, in the case of Othello I think that Shakespeare is exaggerating the situation to make his point. So this makes me wonder if men who are “innately good and in almost all things else preeminently or reasonable wise” cannot guard themselves against deception and imagination, what gives anyone have the ability to come to their senses before it is too late?

    “Thus, by the time we meet Iago he is no longer operating on the “human” level. He has lost the human capacity for understanding, compassion, concern for others, and forgiveness.”
    (pg. 3 of 7)

    This quote really stuck out to me because it described Iago as being inhuman. I had always thought of him as being vengeful and unsympathetic but saying that he was no longer operating like a human makes me see his character in a completely different light. I honestly think that is a perfectly accurate description. This quote also does a good job of showing that Iago underwent a transformation of some sort for him to reach this level of brutality. He was not always this way, but event and the reactions to those events caused him to lose his human capacity. This then made me wonder if Othello could be accurately described as inhuman. The major point of this analysis has been to show that Othello and Iago succumbed to the very same feelings of revenge and jealousy that allowed them to ignore reality but I think that it’s different in Othello’s case. I don’t think Othello had fully lost his human capacity yet because he was not attacking people just because he knew he could get away with it, he had been misled and also most importantly, he felt remorse.

  14. Auden’s main topic is the character Iago. He wants to focus more on Iago instead of the character Othello. Auden focuses on the antagonist rather than Othello. Auden says how Iago has gotten away with everything and hasn’t been caught. He has been in charge of the play, Othello. Iago knows what is going to happen next and how he will counter it. Iago reacts on the fears of the others. He convinces people to do what he thinks is best. Iago is also the man to cause chaos and destroy all relationships. Those who survive will be demoted and ridiculed from then on.

    “Iago is a wicked man. The wicked man, the stage villain, as a subject of serious dramatic interest does not, so far as I know, appear in the drama of Western Europe before the Elizabethans. In the mystery plays, the wicked characters, like Satan or Herod, are treated comically, but the theme of the triumphant villain cannot be treated comically because the suffering he inflicts is real.”
    (pg.1-2 of 5)

    Auden is saying that others will suffer because of what the villains have done. It cannot be “comical” as Auden says. Most people do not feel comical in a tragedy like Othello. Unlike other books or novels the main character is not really the main character. Othello isn’t really the main character, Iago is. Iago controls the whole play. He can control someone’s downfall like he did to Othello. The villain finds out the one main weakness of his foe and attacks it repeatedly until his prey falls. Othello’s main weakness was his love life. Othello would do anything Desdemona asked him to do. Othello is not the center of attention. Iago is the main character of this novel.

    “All practical jokes, friendly, harmless or malevolent, involve deception, but not all deceptions are practical jokes.”
    (pg.2-3 of 5)

    I agree with Auden, all practical jokes do involve deception. The joker must only deceive someone, but he must also uncover the secret behind the joke. He must “unmask” the joke. This however I disagree about. I don’t think the joker must reveal his concepts and trickery. Iago fools everyone about trying to help the general and be his right hand man. He acts behind Othello’s back and plots to avenge him for taking his position. Iago also easily manipulated others, especially in the case of Cassio. Iago must have seen it as a joke about fooling everybody and then remaining silent when he was caught. He didn’t give up his secret about manipulating everyone to cause chaos and destruction.

  15. “Iago the Psychopath”
    By: Fred West


    West postulates that no simple characterization of Iago as an embodiment of pure evil, personification of the devil, or even as “a Machiavel” does justice to the deep and complicated character that Shakespeare weaves. He instead describes a portrait of a psychopath, who “could form the [subject] of [a] contemporary psychological case stud[y],” who Shakespeare uses to expound upon the complexities and eccentricities of the human psyche. The article goes on to describe Iago’s psychopathic characteristics. His hedonism, impulsiveness, and lack of concience. West also provides an explanation for Iago having never before been caught in a serious
    crime and justifies Othello’s belief in Iago. He ends reflecting on Shakespeare’s goal of describing “perfectly sane people” who while “bluff and affable” have no real emotional bonds or loyalties, conscience, guilt, remorse, or end of ruthlessness.

    Quote 1:

    “It is not sufficient to simply drape Iago in allegorical trappings and proclaim him Mister Evil or a Machiavel or a Vice. Such a limited view of Iago is an injustice to the complexity of his character, since Shakespeare’s studies in personality are acclaimed by psychologists for their accuracy and profundity.” (pg. 1 of 5)

    At face value the quote seems complete, it means what it says, and appears to serve as more of a warning than a revelation. However, it is in reality the necessary starting point for any analysis of Iago. Any examination of Shakespeare’s great villain that declares that Iago is the Christian Devil incarnate, a personification of evil, or a facsimile of Machiavelli’s master manipulator must be immediately dismissed as foolishly narrow-minded. Iago is not a character that can be offhandedly categorized, analyzed, tagged and bagged along with other dramatic villains. He is an in depth study into the human soul. Iago is an examination of the cloaked psychopath within a society, whose lack of morality or motivation in conjunction with sanity and intelligence challenge our views of humanity and assault our sensibilities. However, he is also a representation of man’s cruelty towards and hate of those who have power, those who have prestige, those who are different, and those who rise above their station. And, also the embodiment and the extreme of the malevolent tendencies of the manipulative urge. At the same time, Iago is an intellectual struggling against the petty and unenlightened system of reputation and standing. His intelligent and thoughtful mind rejects and seeks to destroy those of lesser intelligence artificially set above him. The enlightened anarchist or the jealous malignant: Iago has a staggering multiplicity that could be examined from a dozen different angles over the course of lifetimes.

    Quote 2:

    “Iago is a more complex psychopath. He does not regard his own actions as horrendously evil.”
    (pg. 2 of 5)

    The second half of this quote really illuminates an intriguing fact which affronts our assumptions about evil and villains. The reader before diving into Othello naturally believes that villains realize that they are evil or what they are doing is evil, but justify their evil to themselves. In Othello, Iago challenges that notion by seeming to not consider his actions evil or antisocial. “The psychopath, in [Hervey] Cleckley’s words, seems “sweetly free” of any doubts that his behavior is perfectly compatible with normal standards of morality, reliability, and so on.” Iago’s refusal to speak of his crimes is not an assumption of self guilt but merely an act of disdain for his prosecutors. Iago’s lack of guilt or recognition of his own evil begs the question, “is Iago an evil villain?” Can a man, who at no point recognises his wrong doing be accused of committing evil? In the end, I would say yes, but the fact that Iago does not see himself as villainous, unreasonable, or immoral challenges every assumption of the classic villain.

  16. “Othello” by Charles Boyce.

    Boyce presents the play in this article to have a central theme of jealousy, which he describes as merely distrust, and the intricacies of life out of the public eye. Othello’s marriage is never jeopardizes until a seed of doubt is planted in his mind by Iago’s lies. Othello never suspects his ‘honest’ friend until he is finally publicly revealed as the manipulating liar he is. By choosing Iago as the honest and truthful person in his life, he is, according to Boyce, choosing the darkness and evil inside himself. Othello is “placed between an angel and a devil who each demand his loyalty,” a classic situation of morality(p1/5).

    The three marriage-like relationships presented throughout the story, Boyce believes, circle around the central theme of jealousy, whether it be justified or paranoid. The reader is told that Iago is acting not only out of jealousy of Desdemona’s relationship with Othello, but also out of fear of seeming inadequate to the goodness of his opponents, Desdemona and Cassio. Boyce speaks of the impossible time constraints presented in the play, speeding along the events, giving Othello and the other characters less time to gain perspective on their problems, acting on instinct rather than thought. The only scene in which Shakespeare slows the pace is that before Desdemona approaches her deathbed, speaking of her wedding sheets and the ‘willow’ song, a sort of preparation to death.

    Boyce claims the location of Cyprus to be key the the events coming out as they did, proposing that the isolation was the only way that Iago could so poison the minds of his fellow Venetians. The Venetian society that rejects race is mentioned to show the predisposed dislike for ‘the Moor’, including various racial slurs mentioned in the book as well as background information to the relations between Africans and the English, setting Othello apart from the rest of his society. As the article closes, Boyce leaves the reader with a thought that when Othello murders Desdemona and kills himself, an order of some sort is restored, an ironic ending to a tragic story.

    “In a sense, Iago and Desdemona represent internalized features of the hero: He rejects his loving and generous self—that aspect of humanity that makes society possible—in favor of the dark passions of his self-centered ego.”

    In general, I agree with Boyce’s view, that most people are attracted to others that they see reflected in themselves. I think people always try to look for the good similarities between others and themselves, but that is the extent of what this truth is. Othello really only wants to see the honesty that he possesses in Iago, when really, if he looked beyond his own desire for a confidant, he would see the evil in his friend.

    I do however completely agree with Boyce on the point of love and generosity being bonding qualities between people. The destruction of Othello is not really a presence of evil, but an absence of caring and loving. With this lack of a pleasant nature, society crumbles, facilitating the implosion of a man.

    I don’t really think that Othello is as self-centered as Boyce presents him. He only becomes very self-involved once Iago prompts him to think that something is going on in his private life. Before Iago led him down this dark spiral, Othello was actually a very bright and interested man, not delving so deep into the depths of his relationships.

    “She sacrifices herself to her love and he himself to his grief that he was inadequate to it. Without the support of his love for Desdemona, Othello could only say, “Chaos is come again” (3.3.93); with his recognition of his error, order is implicitly restored as the ethical meaning of the story is revealed.”

    In one of the most profound statements throughout the article, Boyce points out the balance between Othello and Desdemona’s personalities and impulses. It is this balance, thrown off kilter by Iago, that allows him to manipulate them so well. Othello and Desdemona are almost complete opposites, and when Iago tips the scale with invalid accusations, Othello then wrongly reevaluates his perfect match. In a world where Othello is without Desdemona, Boyce mentions ‘chaos’ is unavoidable.

    Othello and Desdemona love each other so much, that their affection is the only tool Iago must utilize to bring them down in tandem. Once he has secured the death of Desdemona, a miserable, guilt-stricken Othello soon follows, a broken shadow of the once-strong man.

  17. Author: K.W. Evan’s
    Title:K.W. Evan’s on Othello’s Marriage

    Evan’s stresses Othello’s downfall as his own fault. It is because of his own personal weaknesses that his marriage tragically fails. Evan’s feels that everyone liked Othello and Desdemona before their marriage but despised Othello after the marriage. The racism demonstrated by Iago, Brabantio, Emelia, and Roderigo towards Othello ultimately cause the destruction of his marriage and label him as the “alien in Venice.” Evan’s argues that the motives for hostility towards Othello by Iago and Brabantio are completely different. Brabantio feels that he is far more superior to the African race while Iago feeds off the “sexual feelings” and “social envy” the marriage creates.

    Quote 1:
    “Although Othello’s personal weaknesses ultimately cause his downfall, external factors beyond his previous experience also propel him towards tragic conflict…”

    I fully agree with Evan’s idea on Othello’s weaknesses being the reason for his downfall. Although I feel as if Evan’s feels sympathy for Othello, I must agree with her ideals. I feel as if in all of Shakespeare’s works, the main character reaches a peak and then goes through some sort of mental breakdown, ultimately caused by their “personal weaknesses.” Othello’s weak character is to blame for his failed marriage caused by his lack of trust with Desdemona. Rather than confronting Desdemona about her feelings for Cassio, he murders her with no physical proof except for Iago’s psychopathically words. Through reading Macbeth and Othello, I’ve come to realize the emotional weakness of Shakespeare’s main characters. On the surface they seem like wisdom filled warriors but truly are only emotionally unstable men who are afraid to ask the real question.

    Quote 2:
    “Although he shares the opinion of Moors held by most Venetians, his motives for action are not those of Brabantio; he opposes the match from the other end of the social scale, and not for reasons of virtuous indignation, in a very special sense, the marriage brings this normally insignificant man to life, and he comes to personify the more virulent aspects of Venetian prejudice against Moors. Although his hatred of Othello antedates the marriage, he acts upon his hatred now, because the very nature of the marriage excites the feelings of sexual and social envy that govern his character.”

    To me, this quote almost proves that Iago isn’t truly insane. Iago is just a lonely man striving for attention. Iago simply wants attention and is willing to do anything to get it. Iago isn’t really crazy according to Evan’s, he just wants acceptance. (Kind of like Othello) I see Iago as the man who intended to mean no harm when he started his malicious games, but felt the satisfaction of destroying lives and couldn’t stop. Yes Iago has the same racist feelings towards Othello like Brabantio but Brabantio receives attention because of his prestigious rank. Iago yearns for the social excellence in which Othello posses. And Iago can’t accept the fact that a “thick lip” is higher on the social scale than him.

  18. In Boyce’s article he describes how Othello is a tragic comedy that highlights every human emotion and how these emotions give the play its power to affect an audience. The tragedy of the piece is of the complete destruction of happy lives, causing Othello to go insane with the end of his love and his life. Boyce describes how the shift in the story is from Othello’s attitude changing with Desdemona from happy and mutually satisfying to full of jealousy and hatred when Othello is forced to see Desdemona how Iago does. Othello is placed between Iago and Desdemona, two opposites who may be seen in a Christian manner. Boyce believes that what makes the play so great is Shakespeare’s use of Jealousy throughout the play to hasten the plot. Another aspect was the use of race to stimulate the biases of society and his audience. As the story ends the society that had broken around Othello had been repaired and as he recognizes his failure it dulls Iago’s victory over him.

    They establish themselves as mature lovers whose passion is both spiritual and sexual, mutually satisfying and based on self-knowledge (page 1)

    I see Desdemona as the ‘good angel’ that Othello has but she is by no means completely trustworthy. I must force myself to view Desdemona as the most moral character in the play but I still have to take into account how her love to Othello might be affected by human emotion. I find it interesting for Boyce to note that Othello and Desdemona are “mature lovers”. Doesn’t the conception of their love begin with Desdemona running away from her father like any teenager experiencing the conflict of home versus love? If they were truly mature then the jealousy that he says that the play is centered around would be nonexistent in their love as it is an immature impediment to a healthy relationship. Their relationship is in no way sexual because they have never truly been together before but it is indeed mutually satisfying, whether it satisfies Desdemona’s immature desire of a favorable reputation from being with such an upstanding man, even a Moor.

    Othello is placed between Iago—who cannot trust or love—and Desdemona—who offers an ideal, unconditional love. This situation closely resembles the traditional morality play, whose central character, usually symbolic of the human soul, is placed between an angel and a devil who each demand his loyalty.
    (page 1)

    As Othello is caught up between these two ‘celestial’ beings Iago is pulled in different directions, unable to commit to either faction. The theme of Jealousy is not felt by Othello, but those around him. Desdemona and Iago are only hurting themselves by doing so and are and cannot see this because they are blinded by their jealousy. Since Othello cannot fully commit his actions to one side both Iago and Desdemona are destined to fall. If only one path was followed the protection of one of them could have been maintained. Just as an angel and a devil need each other in existence to form a basis of right from wrong, good from evil, so do Desdemona and Iago.

  19. Bloom, Harold. “Bloom on Macbeth.”

    Macbeth is similar to many men because he has a capacity to let ambition and the desire for power lead him to do evil acts. He feels guilt and remorse, which shows that he has not yet become completely evil. He dies before he is completely taken over by it. He still has a conscience yet he commits an act that others who stay away from witches and evil manage to avoid in life. Macbeth is not committed to the faith and knowledge that witches are partners of Satan’s. This is his greatest flaw. When encountered with evil, he does nothing to make the witches go away. He listens to their evil stories and predictions. Once he allows evil in, it begins to have control over his life as it did for Adam and Eve when they ate the forbidden apple.

    I think Bloom’s remarks that focus on the evil in man and that Macbeth represents our own greedy ambitions are interesting. Macbeth can never get anything quite right because of demonic and revengeful interventions. He is extremely imaginative which ends up being a curse because he cannot even fully see his crimes. The character of Macbeth is more interesting than the other characters in the play. Shakespeare does not really develop the other characters. The reader knows very little about them. Even though the audience hates what Macbeth becomes, they are still attracted to this particular villain.

    Bloom believes that Macbeth is so “dreadfully interesting because it is his intense inwardness that always goes bad, and indeed keeps getting worse down to the very end.”

    When I first read this paragraph, I had to read it several times to understand what Bloom was trying to say. I think though that he is saying that once evil has set in, it is hard to get it out. People have said that once a dog tastes human blood, it can never be trusted to be a good, loyal dog again. I see that with humans and sin also. Some sin is so evil that once committed, it may be hard to be rid of the evil that lives within. If the person then has guilt associated with his sin, he may not believe he deserves any more good and just settles for a path of destruction. It spirals out of control until it is too late to come back.

  20. Iagos manipulations
    Bloom, Harold

    Bloom’s most vital point is that Iago is a “manipulative genius”. Not only because of his ability to act quickly on his feet, but because of his ability to improvise. Bloom argues that Iago’s genius and risky manipulations weren’t a result of his failure. But because of his wife’s courageous stand. However, Bloom believes that Iago was in full in control of his “imagination” throughout the play. And because of this, Iago surprises himself on how easily it was to poison Othello’s mind. Resulting in Iago getting caught up in his own plan.

    “Iago, as great improviser, traps himself also in his own web.”

    I do agree with Bloom that Iago was a great improviser creating evil plans. But although he might have got caught up by Emilia, I believe he deserves more credit. His plan was created within seconds of each outcome, not days before. This kind of quick thinking deserves respect, even though it was acts of crime. I don’t believe anyone else besides Emilia could have checked Iago like she did. Emilia knew Iago the best. Her husband was always ‘back pedaling’ when faced against her. This provokes me to believe that it wasn’t all Iago’s fault for his failure, but Emilia’s courageous stand.

    “Iago changes with each fresh confrontation, whether with Othello or with Desdemona, until he enters the final changelessness of his silence, prompted by outrage at Emilia’s courageous devotion to the murdered and slandered Desdemona.”

    Bloom is crediting Iago’s devious, alter ego personalities that created manipulation with ease. He mentions that Iago changes with each new confrontation, meaning he becomes devious and is dishonest to each character he influences. Basically Iago would tell lies, but would appear to be honest, doing nothing wrong. But at the end when he triumph ends, he was too casual and was caught. I think Bloom is referring to that in this quote, saying that his silence was another act that made Iago so deceitful and mysterious.

  21. Othello and the ‘Plain Face’ of Racism
    By:Martin Orkin


    Orkin’s article focuses primarily on individual character’s actions and remarks in regard to Othello’s race. Specifically targerted are Iago, Roderigo, and Brabantio whose actions and remarks throughtout the play carry a racist undertone. Orkin writes about the events in the play regarding Othello and how his racial orientation affect how he is interpreted by surrounding characters. Also discussed is the union between Desdemona, a Senator’s daughter, and her disobedience to her father in marrying a Moor. Interestingly enough, Brabantio is very taken with Othello until his relationship with Desdemona is revealed. The author is interested in the role race plays in Othello’s influence and power as well as his personal relationships with individual characters. Though it seems to factor in to how Othello is treated throughout the play, racism seems to be a by product of other feelings by those characters expressing it as much as a purely natural part of themselves.

    Points of interest

    “[Brabantio’s] problem is as much to come to an understanding of the fact of his daughter’s disobedience as it is to cope with his misgivings about his son-in-law’s color.”(II)

    The author cleary hits on the fact that Brabantio’s racist tendencies toward Othello do not stem entirely from his color. I fully agree with Orkin on the real cause of Brabantio’s bigotted reaction toward his son-in-law, that it is as much a reaction to his daughter’s apparent lack of respect as it is his true feeling. As his daughter deserts him for a Moor Brabantio naturally feels betrayed and lashes out in the most obvious and crude way possible by targeting that which makes Othello most blatantly different. His methods of personal fulfillment are as much to boost his own self image back up as to tear down that of Othello. Another interesting idea is that Brabantio feels his reputation as an upstanding member of society in Venice is at risk when Desdemona directly disobeys his desires. On top of the fact that his pride and joy is now engaged in marriage with a Moor, she willingly went against his very will in her choice to become so engaged. This fact alone would cause others to question his power and ability to control his affairs and that would scare Brabantio into acting out against the military hero whom he previously embraced. When Othello was merely a general who served his people selflessly his company would have been a beneficiary to Brabantio’s reputation. Once it became too personal however his feelings were reversed and he set out to destroy Othello in the public eye by questioning his purity of life. Any threat to Brabantio’s personal standing took top priority in his eyes and warranted such behavior as making Othello appear to be less than human in an attempt to save face for himself.

    “The Venetian court ignores the racism implicit or explicit in Brabantio’s remarks; they have, after all, elected Othello general and he is, as we learn later in the play, esteemed by them as the “noble Moor”

    Addressed here is the question of how in a European society, a moor could rise to such power as Othello did. Though he was obviously torn down by some of the men who resented him because of his racial orientation, the powers that were did not seem to put much store in the matter. By electing him to the post of general of all the military forces of Venice a statement was made that Othello being a Moor meant little or nothing to the court. Indeed until he began courting Desdemona, Othello was an upstanding gentleman in Brabantio’s eyes, though this may have simply been because all others held him in such high esteem, Brabantio did not wish to incur any questions of his integrity. Brabantio seems to have lost some influence in the court’s eyes when he attempts to trash Othello because he resorts to racial slurs which the court ignores, hinting that losing control of his daughter and raging about it so have lowered him in status. Othello being a general in Venetian society shows that though it would have been extremely rare for a Moor to hold any real position of power, he has risen above it and gained influence through his heroism.

  22. K.W. Evens on Othello Marriage
    K.W. Evens

    Even’s seems to have written this on an explanation of Othello and Desdemona’s marriage, and how people have reacted towards it. However you really do not see him mention the marriage between the two until paragraph three of the article. He starts to build up and explain the tension that other’s have towards the marriage. Mostly, it seems, that it is racial tension that holds other’s back from appreciating the marriage, and for some, to deliberately try to destroy the marriage. Through this lack of appreciation and the constant void of being alone, Othello becomes wary of those around him, and in some cases completely paranoid. This paranoia cause him to lash out violently towards those he loves and even killing one person. Through all of this the reader might feel pity towards Othello, and see him as the tragic hero, who has been led down the wrong path by the villain. In this, the reader is forced to try to understand the life of Othello, and try to think for himself of what Othello has to go through on a daily basis.

    “Before the marriage everyone liked both Desdemona and Othello, but after it few continue to admire Othello and his sense of rejection increases until he attempts the life of one and kills the other of the two people who approve of him most.”

    To me this quote is saying that as the story unfolds, the sense of loneliness that Othello is feeling grows, until it is a source for his paranoia towards the people around him. So, basically when you feel like everyone is against you, you snap. When Evens says “he attempts the life of one and kills the other of the two people who approve of him most”, is clearly talking about his attempted murder on Cassio, and him killing Desdemona. But, in what I imagine, is an underlying tone that says, him killing the one that approves of him most, is him killing himself. Since who would better approve of you, than you. Because of his sense of lost by those around him, Othello’s feelings of love and happiness have been banished from him. In their place the feelings of hate, betrayal, and paranoia have taken over. This will eventually lead him down the path of his own destruction (with the help, of course, of Iago).

    “Although he shares the opinion of Moors held by most Venetians, his motives for action are not those of Brabantio; he opposes the match from the other end of the social scale, and not for reasons of virtuous indignation, in a very special sense, the marriage brings this normally insignificant man to life, and he comes to personify the more virulent aspects of Venetian prejudice against Moors.”

    To mew this quote is saying that, Othello would not be as important if he hadn’t married Desdemona. If not for her than the play would be about a black moor, which is the only thing really significant in this play, that Othello is a black military man. The whole ‘race issue’ would have brought the play into perspective, and given more than enough reason for the conflict that Iago has with Othello. But, it just wouldn’t as interesting as if he married a white woman, without the blessing of her father, and every other man in Venice wanting to get into her pants. But, that’s just me, if it isn’t interesting, then it’s not worth reading, but I digresses. The point of this quote is that since he married a white woman, then the whole race issue was thrown into perspective. The concept of a black man and a white woman getting married, especially with their respective titles in society, is a very hard thing to grasp by those who don’t understand Othello’s and Desdemona’s relation.

  23. I believe what Michelle Lee is trying to help portray that Othello is much more than a tragedy. Her writing helps allow us to look at Othello in terms of society more than how evil the characters may be. She emphasizes that the readers should focus on how the Senators and other high ranking people act towards Othello. Beneath the text, it is evident that there are flaws in the Venetian society. If you look hard enough, you will see the injustice.

    Sara Deats (2003) argues that both Othello and Desdemona represent unconventional social types–the self-made, upwardly mobile foreigner and the liberated woman–whose nonconformity is ultimately overwhelmed by established xenophobic and misogynistic attitudes.

    Sara Deats makes a phenomenal argument about Othello and Desdemona’s social statuses and how they have risen to the top of the Venetian social ladder. They contrast the ideas of a largely xenophobic Venice, who fear the power that Othello has gained via his military conquest. The Venetian officials are grateful of the work Othello does for them, however, when they learn he has married one of their own, they feel intruded that such a foreign figure has entered the ranks of their elite and aristocratic society. Also, they have a great fear of an independent woman, who thinks on her own and makes her own decisions. They represent growth into a more equally opportunistic world. The aristocrats of Venice fear that they would have their power taken away.

    Commentators have also speculated that key themes in Othello reveal a fundamental anxiety about rapidly changing cultural traditions and values in the early modern period.

    As read in the paragraph above, around the time that William Shakespeare wrote this play, their were many social changes going along in England at the time. This quote intrigued me because of how it talks about society in Venice. The key themes are ideas of race, gender, marriage, and many others. There is stress between the different social classes in Venice and England and Othello serves as an allegory between what was going on in Shakespeare’s world and what he wrote down in the play. At the same time in England, they were going through a large amount of changes in their society as Shakespeare shows us via his play Othello.

    Many recent scholars have argued that Othello dramatizes a multitude of early modern cultural concerns, including conventional social attitudes about racism and misogyny, xenophobic and religious anxiety about Turkish expansion into Europe, and insecurity about the political viability of newly forming pre-modern nation states.

    Many of the Venetians are anxious and scared of the Turks expansion and have tried to oppress them in an effort to cure their insecurities about a new group of people. They attempt to make the lives of the foreigners more difficult because they were afraid of them. These were a few of the reasons Othello never appeared to fit into their city. Even though he had converted to christianity, the xenophobia the upper class still possessed, made them want to oppress Othello even though he had done so much to help them. Had Othello not been a moor, I believe the story would’ve turned out much differently.

  24. “Othello’s Mind”
    By: William Hazlitt

    William Hazlitt, out of all the literary criticisms I have read, gives some of the most interesting thoughts on Othello’s mind. His incite is well oriented and he has taken Othello into detailed work. William really focused on Othello’s relationship with Desdemona to see whats hidden inside Othello’s mind. Othello gives off a lot of emotions when Desdemona is near him and it is through her that shows Othello’s qualities and thoughts. William integrates Iago into the link between Othello and Desdemona to show the influence brought upon Othello by Iago. William shows that this mixture brings out two sides of Othello as being influenced by Desdemona and being influenced by Iago upon Desdemona. The more emotion, the more understanding of Othello.

    “…returns to demand satisfaction of Iago like a wild beast stung with the envenomed shaft of the hunters.”

    When William said this, It caught my attention deeply for a few reasons. It is extremely ironic that Othello must have Iago’s “satisfaction” when Iago is the single person duping Othello into believing Desdemona is cheating on him. Othello does not want help from any other person except for Iago. Another reason is because this quote almost sounds as if Othello is doing this just to make himself feel less insecure about Desdemona. Othello wants to feel understanded and right so he turns to Iago for agreement just to please himself out of anger. It is magnificent that Iago, the trickster, is the only person Othello can rely on for help.

    “…the extreme sense of shame…”

    We see shame a lot throughout Othello and I like the way William explains uses this to describe Othello’s reaction towards what Iago is saying about Desdemona. William focuses on Othello’s “misfortunes” and is used to analyze his reactions. There is a large variety of shame, and I had not seen this factor until William pointed it out. Shame does not occur always from directly in the book, but the reader can grasp the sense of shame when Iago begins to rip away at Othello’s heart. William, I believe, was able to hit this spot perfectly well and used the perfect phrase to discribe Othello’s grief towards the end of the play.

  25. Student Response #1

    I am reacting Student 11.

    I also used this work for my bibliography project. I really appreciated Bloom’s point of view of how Iago gets caught, for it is very possible. Bloom did state that Iago did appreciate how he was able to manipulate everyone, which is inherent in the book. The next part of Iago falling in his own trap can be debated. I really think that Iago didn’t expect Emilia to figure out his plan.

    Iago is a very complicated person. He is a devious,smart, but emotional(sort of) person. Iago couldn’t have been able to keep coming up with plans because he was motivated/enjoyed after first having manipulated, as Bloom said. I really think Iago thought this plan up from the beginning; it seems very unlikely for some naive person to come up with such a complicated plan. I like how you even though of the possibility of Iago purposely getting caught. Iago is a brilliant enough genius to come up with a tactic like this. He may have, as you said, to get caught purposely in order to not give the answer to Othello and the others, to keep them anxious/dying for the answer.

    I also agree with you on Emilia. Emilia was the only flaw in his plan. Iago was so sneaky and deceptive that no one would ever have figured out he was the criminal. Emilia was the one to bring his downfall; he would have been able to continue manipulating Othello and everyone else if it wasn’t for his wife. I also appreciated how you took in to fact that Iago had only one goal. All he had to do was place jealousy in Othello’s heart and then it went from there. The only thing missing from this is his purpose.

  26. Student Response #2

    I am respond to student number 19

    When I read your research, I am totally agreed with you. You said that the witches are the partners with the Satan that very attract my attention, because in my old opinion that the witches are representing the evil, but never thought that they work with the real evil.

    Macbeth is similar to many men because he has a capacity to let ambition and the desire for power lead him to do evil acts.

    This is a good one, I am totally agree with you, every men have desire, and because want those desire and go down with the evil. In a lot of movie and cartoon, the bad man always wants to gain more power and deal with the evil, finally becomes the final boss that try to crush the narrator and his friends. And Macbeth is the same, because want to fill in his desire, and then give his mind to devil, and finally, becomes a slave, that works for the evil.

    I think though that he is saying that once evil has set in, it is hard to get it out

    You are very right, that’s why a lot of people become a man like Macbeth, that can’t control the evil power, finally fall into the darkness. Everything has a beginning, a lot of people always regret at the last time, but that always too late. Why don’t you think at the first time, than start your action, why you not think before you led the evil went into your body. Every time you use the dark power, the power will become stronger, and at the last it will become impossible to control. Maybe my idea is different, and if I have something wrong, please forgives me.

  27. Student Response #3

    I am responding to student #7.

    I read an article just like yours, and I totally agree the idea that Macbeth is the study of human evil.His dark human nature make his emotions change. He becomes a killing machine, and no one can stop him. You also say that Lady Macbeth is the one who force him to put on the dark mask. It is really a cool idea with the supernatural power because we can’t control that power.

    Macbeth is the one who wear the dark mask and he can’t stop himself. He becomes emotionless; he doesn’t want any but the power. You also point out that when you wear the dark mask too long, you won’t be able to take it off anymore. The evil’s seed have already spread in your heart and you just degenerate. In the play, Macbeth can’t stop killing people because he gets use to the dark mask.

    The supernatural is an important element in the play too. No body on the earth can control them. We also afraid of them, sometime we will try to ask them for the answer. They will destroy your mind, just like Macbeth in the play. He is not the hero we know before. He is the murderer, and an emotionless killing machine. It is why we need to have police in the police, and people keep failing into it.

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