Iago would have loved Jack Bass

I’m reading Othello right now (one of the set books on my course) and I must say I have thoroughly enjoyed it – a revelation in itself since I found Shakespeare dull at school.

As I am sure you know, Iago is the anti-hero of one of Shakespeare’s most well-known tragedies. Some of my fellow students love him as a character but I just can’t. Whilst I agree that his self-serving nature and will to succeed makes him far more compelling than say, the weakling Roderigo (a perfect foil to the scheming Iago), I just find him loathsome, a complete shit, quite frankly.  I’ve written ‘what a bast**d’ quite a few times in the margin which is down to Shakespeare’s amazing ability to write such a believable character.

I guess you could say that Iago is a universal character and we see him portrayed today in many movies, TV series and books: the person we love to hate. The character Jack Bass in Gossip Girl comes to mind as a modern embodiment of deviousness and slit-eyed manipulation; Iago would have loved him! To me Iago represents the darker side of human nature, the part of us we all choose to deny – the ability to be snide, deceiving and manipulative.

Othello was a thrilling read and finally I understand the genius that is William Shakespeare; it’s only taken me thirty years!


Categories: Just Thoughts

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4 replies

  1. Time I read this again. It’s been years since I read it first time.

  2. Every now and then I will read Shakespeare and I am always amazed that I find something new. I’m glad you mentioned Julius Caesar. I think that’s one of my favorites! When I was in high school I liked Romeo and Juliet and that was about it! Hamlet and Othello came much later–in fact, I think I saw movies before I read the plays, which may have actually helped me in appreciating the dialogue. You have me thinking it’s time to dust the Shakespeare off again. It’s been a while!

  3. Went to see Othello a couple of years ago with Lenny Henry as Othello and Conrad Nelson as Iago …..Nelson totally stole the show for me….yes, Iago is an utter bas*tard but remains ruthless throughout whereby Othello comes across as somewhat fickle. Def one of my fave of Shakey’s plays! X

    • Me too! Reading Julius Caesar with my students right now and loving that also; they like it too. Admittedly they are reading a modern rendition rather than the original but since English isn’t their first language, I’m pretty impressed that they’ve got so into it!

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