Othello’s Sinister Side Essay

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Othello’s Sinister Side

Shakespeare’s Othello, with its prolonged exposure to the evil mind of Iago, is difficult for some in the audience. Let’s consider the play’s evil aspect.

In the Introduction to The Folger Library General Reader’s Shakespeare, Louis B. Wright and Virginia A. LaMar explain the single, evil focus of the drama – the arch-villainy of the ancient:

Othello has been described as Shakespeare’s most perfect play. Critics of dramatic structure have praised it for its attention to the main theme without irrelevant distractions. Many Elizabethan plays had rambling subplots and much extraneous detail to amuse the groundlings. Othello avoids all irrelevancies and the action moves swiftly from
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The first of these is the fact that perfectly sane people exist in whom fellow-feeling of any kind is so weak that an almost absolute egoism becomes possible to them, and with it those hard vices – such as ingratitude and cruelty – which to Shakespeare were far the worst. The second is that such evil is compatible, and even appears to ally itself easily, with exceptional powers of will and intellect. (216)

H. S. Wilson in his book of literary criticism, On the Design of Shakespearean Tragedy, addresses the character of the general’s ancient:

With such a man everything is food for his malice. There is no appeasing him. His ego feeds upon the misfortunes he contrives for others, and what he feeds on only makes him hungrier. He is proof against pity and remorse alike, as his last interview with Desdemona and his sullen defiance of his captors at the end only too painfully show us. In short, he is the demi-devil that Othello finally calls him, half a devil and half a man; yet the littleness in each of his components is formidable, spider-like, and appallingly human besides. (54)

In the essay “Wit and

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