Monday, 12 April 2010

On Iago

What if Iago's motive really is the toothache he mentions ('I lay with Cassio lately/And, being troubled with a raging tooth,/I could not sleep'; Othello, 3.3.458-60)? Assume this is a real toothache; untreated pulpitis and inflammation of the nerve. This would do more than keep Iago awake the one night; it would persist, until either the infection created an agonising abcess or else spread to the jaw as a whole, and perhaps into the bloodstream. Iago's 'motiveless malignancy', then, becomes actually a symptom of extreme pain mixed with chronic sleeplessness. The tragedy of Othello? Inadequate dentistry.

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