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Thursday, August 06, 2009

The character of a blog and the analysis of a villain


I've just realised something: I glanced at the header for my blog just now, the pretty picture of the bee and the apple blossom, and asked myself why I have that picture as the header for my blog. I like it for what it's worth, but the header of someone's blog ought to convey their character.
A cute wee bee sitting on an apple blossom spray does not convey my character, or the character of my blog at all. Now I'm wondering why I didn't think of this before, now that I've had that picture sitting there for about a year.. I'll have to get my brother to sort it out for me, see if we can find a picture that is suited to most tranquil.

Anyway, here's an essay I've just finished, for English. It's on the play Othello (yep, I'm obsessed) and it focuses on Iago. It was difficult to write because Iago is an incredibly complex individual who has a split personality (very Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde) and it was hard to cut down my ramblings to 500 words. This version is the pre - 500 words massacre.

Activity 11 A

Topic: The play Othello should really be called 'Iago'


There is some debate over the name given to the play Othello which is arguably the greatest of the four tragedies that Shakespeare wrote. This argument centers around the two main characters of the play: the tragic hero Othello, and the devilish villain Iago. Shakespeare's main villain has greater character development, power used for manipulation and knowledge of every situation than the other characters within the play, therefore the play 'Othello' would have been better named 'Iago'.


Iago is a fascinating villain. His character is explored and developed to a greater extent than most of the other characters within the play, including Othello and Desdemona, the hero and heroine. It is difficult to understand who the real Iago is, as he has a split personality. One side is all honesty, love and caring while the other is a deep abyss of vengeance, hatred and scheming. Often however, these two sides merge and he shows his true character when he is giving someone advice, for instance when he says to Othello, "Do it not with poison. Strangle her in her bed, even the bed she hath contaminated." (Act 4, Scene 1, Lines 206-207). Here Iago has no other reason for Desdemona to die by strangulation other than that he is driven by a sadistic nature, part of the darker side that he usually conceals. Othello, on the other hand, has a comparatively shallow character that lacks the intricacy and depth of Iago's more complex psyche.


Because Iago presents an honest and caring front to the other characters in the play, he possesses great power that he uses to devastating effect. He holds this power because everyone believes him to be what he pretends to be and confides in him, and Iago takes their trust and uses it for his own evil purposes. In this way he could be compared to the puppet master of a puppet theatre, pulling the strings of each 'puppet' character in the play, and orchestrating each disastrous event. An interesting aspect of Iago's manipulation is that he uses reverse psychology when giving advice to characters within the play. In his early insinuations to Othello of Desdemona's unfaithfulness, Iago says: "I am to pray you not to strain my speech to grosser issues, nor to larger reach than to suspicion." He uses this devious device throughout the play, with terrible consequences as each of his victims falls for his 'honest' farce.


The reason for Iago's success in controlling and manipulating the other characters in the play is that he has a comprehensive knowledge of each situation, and of the various foibles of his victims. In one of his soliloquies, he says of Othello: "The Moor is of a free and open nature that thinks men honest that but seem to be so; and will as tenderly be led by th' nose as asses are." This saying turned out to be prophetic, as Othello, who had complete trust in him, believed everything that Iago insinuated about his wife. Iago continually seeks to find information that will aid him in his schemes to achieve a higher rank and take revenge on those people who prevented him from attaining it in the first place. Contrastingly, Othello is a pawn in Iago's chess game, never knowing that he is being used, or that his trust in his 'honest friend' Iago is misplaced until he has killed his wife and destroyed his own chance of happiness.


For these reasons, the play Othello would have been better named 'Iago'. The villain Iago presents his audience with both a captivating and a deadly character, a clever, manipulative power, and a comprehensive knowledge of his victims and of each situation. The psychopath Iago is the driving force behind this play, and he deserves to have his own, tragically engineered story named after him.

2 Comments:

Blogger Andy Moore said...

Well Lyd, it's such a nice picture, I helped you choose it after all. How about we set it up to display a random background image each time someone visits the blog... like this website.

9:59 pm  
Blogger Lydz said...

yay! I like that idea :)

10:04 pm  

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