Thursday, September 28th, 2017...4:57 pmchoc

Iago Needs an Intervention

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In act 2, scene 3, we see Iago orchestrate an alcohol-infused party to try and get Cassio to be disgraced. In this scene, not only are we made aware of the fact that Cassio is a lightweight, but that also Iago can handle his alcohol: “Oh, they are our friends. But one cup. I’ll drink for you.” (24)

But after he gets situated in the party atmosphere, he starts to sing and engage in banter. After that, I started reading the rest of the scene as if Iago was that kind of party person that nobody really knows how to talk to—the kind that gets drunk and way too comfortable and nobody knows how to respond to or deal with.

So if I were to stage Othello, I’d use this scene for just that: humanising the villain Iago with not empathy, but by characterising him as the overly human, cringeworthy lame drunkard with few people to genuinely enjoy his tirades.

In line 48, when Cassio is questioning Montano over the size of his pint, I’d have Iago drink unashamedly out of a giant barrel. In line 70, when he finishes singing, I’d place a long half-minute awkward pause or silence until Cassio eventually has to break the silence by going uhhhhhHHHhhh…….why…. this is a more………. exquisite? song than the other. (Iago, of course, thinks himself a brilliant singer.) (while Cassio says “There be souls must not be saved,” (74) Montano and the gentlemen would look pointedly towards Iago, having suffered from his singing voice.)

This also would serve to put a comedic twist on Iago’s lines further on in the scene, where Iago’s free and inhibited professions of love may appear originally—to some—as a situationally and historically appropriate declaration of companion and friendship, but on the other hand, in a modern sense, could be portrayed as an overbearing drunk friend who’s emotionally volatile and is overly free with professions of love.

When Iago says of Cassio: “(I) would do much to cure him of this evil” (105) and otherwise is discussing Cassio’s drinking habit, Montano would look at him as though he should be the one worried about himself. This also gives credence to how Iago was chasing after Roderigo but fails to catch him (gives up midway, or perhaps too drunk to walk in a straight line.)

Of course, this interpretation comes from somethin only limited to this scene, but I’d love to see Othello entirely the same except Iago turns into a huge baby whenever he gets drunk.

1 Comment

  •   Professor Seiler
    September 29th, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    Cho–You are so right: Iago would definitely think he’s a great singer. Your post has a great idea for upping the party ante, and making Iago into something of a drunken fool. But how would he also maintain his capacity to connive, do you think?

    Can you see spots you can cut, to get this post down to the word limit? (And, more importantly, to make its great ideas pop that much more clearly!)

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