Here we are, as promised, Othello. I have for years tried to get through this play and always ended after the first act. I have seen the movies, but just could never get into it. But because of my goal of getting through the complete works of the Bard, I forced myself.
I think that the play is misnamed. Although Othello is the character who has the tragic fall, the story is about the antagonist, Iago. He is a villain worthy of the greatest villains of literature. He is as evil as Hannibal Lector, without the cannibalism. He’s more manipulative than any character ever written. The greatest thing about him is there is no real reason why he’s doing it. Iago seems power-hungry. He wants to get rid of Cassio and Othello. He seems like he wants Desdemona. The ultimate thing is, he never tell us what he’s really after. That makes him so evil. He even lives at the end, unrepentant for anything he did. Bravo, for writing Iago. If every writer could create such a worthy villain.
Othello, however, is a dullard in many ways. He is led by the nose the whole play. He never seems to make a decision that is not based on information from someone else. This leads him to kill Desdemona based on very shaky evidence. He isn’t that likeable either. I don’t feel sorry for Othello. (This may be because I worked so many years with manipulative personality disorder.) He in many ways gets what he should. The good thing about this play is that Shakespeare doesn’t stereotype the Moor too badly. In another play about a minority, The Merchant of Venice, Shylock is treated as little more than a stereotype, which makes that play very hard to read by today’s ideas of morality. (MOV is of course going to be discussed at some point, but not for a while.) Othello remains readable because it still has themes that we are familiar with today without the negative stereotyping.
But the play is still Iago’s. He is a villain’s-villain. And as a horror writer, I like that.