QUESTIONS for STUDY with IDEAS for ANSWERS
Q: Othello was regarded as the greatest Shakespearean lover.
Do you agree? What are your views?
If you ask the man in the street who the greatest Shakespearean
lover was, he might say Romeo.
The love Romeo and Juliet shared was shallow, almost an infatuation. It was used as a tool by Shakespeare to mend an age-old feud between the rival families of Capulet and Montague. There were after all mere teenagers on the threshold of adulthood.
The quality of the love between Othello and Desdemona was a
balance between the physical and the spiritual. Desdemona admired Othello not just for his masculinity, but also for his nobility, intelligence, heroism and social position.
In addition to this, he was also charismatic, this being aided by his race – a black Moor. In Desdemona’s eyes, therefore, he was the complete man, an ideal mate. The choice for her was simple. All these attributes far outweighed the blinkered conventions of the time. As a young woman she looked up to this larger than life mature man and eloped with him and was quickly married.
Although Romeo and Juliet are written in a more blatant, erotic
style, in fact the relationship between Desdemona and Othello is more erotic from the audience’s point of view.
They are fuller characters and the actions and words they say concerning their love give more depth to their relationship. We know that they mean and understand precisely what they say. When they have been separated for a short period of time Othello says to Desdemona,
“It gives me wonder great as my content
to see you here before me. O, my soul’s joy
if after every tempest come such calms, ''
as hell’s from heaven! If it were now to die,
‘twere now to be most happy; for, I fear,
my soul hath her content so absolute
that not another comfort like to this
succeeds in unknown fate.”
We clearly see the affection between these two lovers.
Q: Provide a character analysis of Iago.
Iago is all things to all the characters in the play. He
is, therefore, a good actor and lies well. He is able to manipulate those around him in order that they can carry out his evil work.
His first victim is Roderigo who he successfully dupes
throughout the 5 ACTS. His proposal is that if Roderigo helps in discrediting Cassio, Iago will help him win Desdemona.
This task will also require Roderigo’s money which he thinks will be used to buy Desdemona gifts, but which we assume Iago keeps.
He pretends to be Othello’s friend. To his wife Emilia he
is at least honest, although he shows her little concern. He becomes Cassio’s adviser and Desdemona’s last hope to regain her husband.
He is none of these.
He is a twister of words and actions. He dupes Roderigo and murders him. He has no regard for his wife and kills her. He betrays Cassio and Desdemona, all because he has an all-consuming hate for Othello. He poisons Othello’s mind, driving him to murder Desdemona. He never allows his feelings or passions, which are heavily suppressed, to interfere with his deadly purpose.
Because of this, he is a repugnant person.
If he had been driven by passion, then he might have received some sympathy from the audience, but he is cold and calculating, which makes his evil even more deadly. Originally he planned to possess Desdemona as part of his humiliation of Othello, but events make this impossible.
He has a low opinion of women as illustrated by his treatment of Emilia.
As Othello is Shakespeare’s greatest lover, in contrast, Iago is his greatest villain.
Q: What purpose do Iago’s soliloquies and asides serve?
Using the soliloquy in ACT I – Scene.iii, we see how Iago uses
Roderigo to do his dirty work and provide him with money. He reveals his hatred for Othello and that he intends to poison the Moor’s mind. He acknowledges the Moor as having “a free and open nature”.
To summarize, these soliloquies by Iago show his true nature
when he is alone.
You learn his innermost thoughts. He illuminates what his scheming has accomplished and indicates his future plans and actions. You see his character and how he views the other players.
Other soliloquies can be found:
ACT II – Scene.i, line 163 and at line 267
ACT II – Scene.iii, line 40 and at line 303
ACT III – Scene.i, line 347
ACT IV – Scene.iii, line 11
You can carry out similar studies of these.