Othello Lecture

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Lecture: Othello and Shame Soul of Oth's jealousy is shame: rarely reflects anything on Cass Iago is agent of shame: motivated by it, acts to cause it He is psychomachia: allegorical portrayal of shame within the soul Iago: forerunner of lit of existentialism, "improviser of power" (Greenblatt) His job application rejected without consideration, very public dismissal, can't lick wounds in private Thinks he's been cuckolded: jealous shame, loss of sexual ownership But this is inconsistent with Oth's sexual idealism and later shock when Des lets him down Ren pride based on sexual and professional status At centre of 'Othello' is the fertility of shame Iago believes Oth has doubly usurped his position, and his fear of gaze of others is classic sign of shame e.g. "for doves to peck at"; conceals himself totally e.g. "I am not what I am" But need not feel degraded before an obvious inferior (Rod) Believes absolute egoism is only way, conscience is an absurdity Iago's personal shame = becomes morally shameless as shame breeds shamelessness as well as further shame Thus Iago becomes "spartan dog", paralleling Oth fall If Iago works on suggestion, does he rely on a meaning gathered in the minds of others / paranoia? Bra also affected by shame: dishonoured patriarch, disembodied voice of Iago in shadows, Bra on balcony in dressing gown = emblem of exposure Bra dies because of shame and grief brought on by Iago e.g.

Hero's death at altar in 'Much Ado' Embarrassment of Cass is shame at getting drunk, Iago stage manages this into alcoholism and brawl, says "you will be shamed forever" Iago not yet plagued Oth with allusions to Des's adultery Shame is strangely impersonal suggestion, and Iago's psychomatic role would have been unmistakable to Elizabethans Med world put emphasis on afterlife...