• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Othello – Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Othello - Samuel Taylor Coleridge Samuel Taylor Coleridge presented his view on the personality of the most complex character in "Othello" and, arguably the most complex character in Shakespearean Tragedy, Iago, as "the motive hunting of motiveless malignity". This, in itself, is a rather complex assessment, which may be interpreted in more than one way. At the immediate outset, it is worth attempting to define Coleridge's statement. On a simplistic level, the quotation can be perceived to imply that Iago does not have a motive, but desperately wants and seeks to obtain a motive. He commits acts of evil, solely for the sake of evil. Coleridge seems to shed doubt upon the motives of Iago for his actions, dismissing them as evidence of "motiveless malignity". According to Coleridge, Iago's reasons for his actions, namely that Othello overlooked him for the post of lieutenant and his claim that Othello had a secret liaison with Emilia, his mistress ("twixt my sheets.... Done my office"), are unclear, inappropriate and very much half-hearted. Iago admits his resentment of Cassio's "daily beauty in his life/ That makes me ugly". This feeling of inferiority may act as a point of motivation. The achievements and status of everyone around him could quite easily as a trigger for him. ...read more.

Middle

In my opinion, to a large degree, Iago is one of Shakespeare's most inexplicable characters. Most people, even the most notorious criminals, are deterred from evil for fear of consequence. The characteristic of fear of punishment is absent in Iago. Upon the revelation of his wicked plot, Iago says that he will "never speak word". He has neither desire nor intention to defend himself. There is thus an enigma surrounding this complex individual. But, I think we have to be careful when we go as far as to define Iago as a psychopath. For such an association, I believe we require further evidence. Iago receives a sense of satisfaction and enjoyment out of the psychological destruction of humans, evidence of sheer malicious pleasure. He refers to his tempting of Othello as a "sport". As his evil plotting unfolds, "pleasure and action make the hours seem short". With Cassio, Iago's desire is to not only "get his place", of which he feel denied, but also satisfy his will, or, as he himself puts it, "to plume up my will". Iago's life is ultimately empty, as he is disassociated with human nature. It is certainly not hyperbolic to term him a "psychological sadist". ...read more.

Conclusion

We are presented with further evidence that Iago has motives for his malignity. At the outset, in his exchanges with Roderigo, Iago comments, "Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago". This seems to suggest that his primary motive is jealousy. I interpret his words to mean that, if he were the Moor, or even a close associate of the Moor, he would not be inclined to commit evil deeds. He goes on to describe his "peculiar end", suggesting that, whatever it may be, he does have an end, a motive. Iago states that his "cause is hearted". The word "cause" would seem to suggest the existence of a motive. If we scrutinise the evidence in detail, we can see that Iago seeks revenge. The word "revenge" is defined in the following way: "vengeance for wrongs or injury received" (REF: Oxford English Dictionary). The fact that Iago seeks "revenge" would seem to imply, by mere definition of the word, that he does have a motive. He feels wronged. He also wishes to even himself with Othello, "wife for wife"- another potential motive. Iago tells us, "I do suspect the lusty Moor hath leaped into my seat". His sexual jealousy and his shame of being cuckolded are so great that he refuses to mention this to Rodrigo. This tells us that Iago is a man of immense pride. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Othello section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Othello essays

  1. In the view of Samuel Taylor-Coleridge (1790's) Iago demonstrates "motiveless malignity." According to Felicity ...

    Othello's violence climaxes with the killing of Desdemona and then himself. Iago also reveals the vulnerability of Desdemona who starts the play as a composed mature young lady and end as the helpless, childlike victim of Othello's wrath. Iago also finds Cassio's secret weakness for drink and women and capitalises

  2. Is Othello a 'noble hero' brought down by 'a devil of motiveless malignity' or ...

    Another place where Shakespeare shows Othello taking control over a situation is when Cassio and Montano are fighting after Roderigo antagonized him. These words Othello said are important now, but they will be more important later when he is alone with Desdemona in their bedroom.

  1. "The motive-hunting of a motiveless malignity" was Coleridge's comment on the Iago soliloquies. Evaluate ...

    Yet why could Iago, a man who shows himself to be proud of his hypocrisy, indecency and dedication to evil not simply admit that he hates Othello for the sake of it? Perhaps it is because his real reason for his hatred is jealousy, aggravated further by the intolerable idea of being cuckolded.

  2. Iago's Soliloquies display 'the Motive Hunting of a Motiveless Malignity.'(Coleridge) Why does Iago behave ...

    He seems to want to help Cassio to get out of trouble, when in fact he pretends to be doing this while in fact exaggerating Cassio's acts. Othello thinks that Iago is trying to help Cassio, so everything Iago says Othello assumes was worse in real life.

  1. "The motive hunting of a motiveless malignity" (Coleridge). Is this a fair assessment of ...

    He is also very powerful and has great charisma so people listen to him and obey him - Iago may be jealous of this. In Act One, Scene 3, Othello manages to stop the fight just by saying a few words.

  2. Iago himself offers many explanations for his behaviour during the play, none of them ...

    It seems not meet, nor wholesome to my place, to be produced-as, if I stay, I shall- Against the Moor.' (AI, Si, L140). This theme of Iago manipulating others to do his bidding continues throughout the play. It is clear that he has the intellect and the understanding of the character of others to bend them to his will.

  1. Samuel Taylor Coleridge believes the character of Iago reveals 'the motive hunting of motiveless ...

    Secondly he is clearly prejudiced against Othello's race and colour. Finally, there is the tiniest hint in Shakespeare's play of Iago's dissatisfied love for Desdemona. But the trouble with these motives is that we are not convinced that they really are the main reasons of Iago's villainy, at times it

  2. Othello and Coleridge

    However, Shakespeare is careful to show that Othello and Desdemona are in love and not just gratifying their basic desires, in Act 1 Scene 3 Desdemona reveals the depth of her love for Othello, "That I did love the moor to live with him...

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work