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  • Two local Shakespeare fanatics meet to discuss their latest reading of Othello...
  • Really? What did it say and what did you think of it?
  • It views the characters through the lens of sadism and helplessness, really illuminating their motives!
  • Hey! I found a literary analysis on Othello that really brings new light to the characters!
  • But, if you look at Iago as a sadist, his motives become clear. He sees himself as some brilliant lieutenant, but when he realizes that isn't the case when he isn't promoted, a rift is created between his self-perception and his real self, pushing him to act.
  • For example, a common critique of the play is that Iago is a "motiveless villain," as he is willing to kill a man just because he was passed over for a promotion and a baseless suspicion that he had an affair with his wife...
  • IAGO: "I never found a man who knew how to love himself!"
  • So I get it! Iago can't accept himself not getting promoted because it defies his self-image, and the pain of facing reality would be unbearable!
  • I can see this lens really working on Othello's character as well, which could really help explain his downfall...
  • Exactly! Plus, seeing others suffer like himself makes him feel less helpless and alone, making his pain easier to cope with.
  • For instance, his immense love and infinite passion for Desdemona leaves me wondering if he ever really even loved her at all! He was so quick to turn around and kill her, so maybe he just liked her so much because she bolstered his self-image...
  • But, when he hears that Desdemona may be cheating on him, it denies his idealized reality of being an irresistible lover and really infringes upon his self esteem. It kills the bold and noble figure he sees himself to be, and so he is quick to turn on her and kill her instead.
  • OTHELLO: "This destiny unshunnable, like death!"
  • True. Plus, it is a good way to explain the melodramatic actions of some of the characters, and not just Othello and Iago exclusively!
  • So, what do you think of this new way to look at the text?
  • I think it makes a lot of sense and there is plenty of evidence to support that these hidden feelings hold a big role in the play.
  • And so our two local Shakespeare fanatics agree that a lens of sadism better explains the play...
  • And it makes all the unexplained pieces fall into place!
  • This'll be a tough claim to dispute with this much evidence!
  • What a great analysis!
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