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In the opinion of F.R. Leavis, “Iago’s power is that he represents something that is in Othello.” To W.H. Auden, however, Iago was “a portrait of a practical joker of an appalling kind.”Discuss these and other ways of regarding Ia

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Introduction

In the opinion of F.R. Leavis, "Iago's power is that he represents something that is in Othello." To W.H. Auden, however, Iago was "a portrait of a practical joker of an appalling kind."Discuss these and other ways of regarding Iago's role in the play. In the play, Iago's character is certainly complex and difficult to understand, and what is particularly intriguing is the sway he has over the whole of the proceedings in the play. From the very beginning he is coordinating the action, and the other actors, despite the significance of their characters, do not seem to be as substantial as Iago, which in itself is ironic, as I will explore later on. This complexity that Iago displays is one that is the subject of many famous critical analysis's of him, notably in this case of Leavis and Auden. Leavis gives Iago a sinister and implacable importance, in that he represents something in Othello, meaning that Iago is simply a device that represents the instability in the relationship between Othello and Desdemona; that as a personification of Othello's insecurities Iago does naught more than bring about a situation sooner that otherwise would probably have happened but over a greater length of time. ...read more.

Middle

With Othello's fall comes a complementary rise in Iago's own characters activity, almost as though Iago gains strength through Othello's loss of it. This is certainly a substantial observation, as towards the end, when Othello regains his former glory, Iago becomes a silent person, as the balance of power once again shifts to favour Othello. This is highly supportive of the view Leavis has as well as others, such as the view of Iago as a repressed homosexual who chooses Othello as a victim of his oppressed desire for men that leads him to strangely hideous acts towards people as he does in the play. Auden's view is one that is interesting but does not seem to stand up to any real, rigorous analysis. The very fact that Auden refers to him as a practical joker is a novel idea - it is a view that does not have any serious roots in my mind. Fair enough Auden says 'of the most appalling kind', yet this is an easy statement to make. How far can a person take it before a practical joke becomes more than that? In this case I believe it is very fast over as a practical joke, a couple of lines into the play in fact. ...read more.

Conclusion

his human psyche that needs the love and care of a being such as Desdemona but cannot get it because his other human nature, that of his protectiveness of his identity. It is easy to complain that Othello is not noble because of his actions but that is an argument for an ideal of nobility, which is never going to be available to a human under any circumstances - ideals are for heaven and imperfection is for men. So, Iago becomes a very peripheral character in the greater context of the play, ironic as he has around a third of the lines in the play dedicated to him. He truly is like a stage master, who remains in the shadows but is ever present, who orchestrates the action but never acts himself. As such his character is not one that requires any truly critical and textual analysis, but the irony of this is it is a realisation that must come about as a result of thoroughly reading and analysing Shakespeare's work. Iago remains as elusive as a substantial person as always but it is clear that as an insubstantial person he is to be regarded, and that it is his perfect role. ?? ?? ?? ?? Vikas Chowdhary Page 1 4/23/2007 ...read more.

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