What I am reading: “Othello”

I recently revisited William Shakespeare’s Othello as part of the required reading for one of the units I am doing as part of my Master of Arts in Creative Writing course. It had been over 40 years since I last studied this play. I didn’t know how I would react to it after such a long break. I need not have worried.

I managed to read the play in two sittings. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The subsequent lecture and tutorial was quite stimulating with some excellent discussion on the many issues raised in the play.

The thing that struck me most forcefully in this study was the sheer nastiness of Iago. I had forgotten just how evil he was portrayed by Shakespeare. I am struggling to think of a more fundamentally evil character in English literature. The only character I can come up with is Hannibal Lecter in the film Silence of the Lambs. I am appealing for any readers to correct me in this; please leave a comment.

I was also amazed at the gullibility of Othello in falling for all of Iago’s manipulations. A major, tragic flaw in an otherwise outstanding character. Then there is Desdemona; her innocence is tragically only outweighed by her naivety.


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