What Iago Knew

  •  Roberto Gigliucci    


This paper defines Iago as a master of time. He knows the future, or, even better put, he is able to foresee it quite brilliantly. Such an ability is typical of a Melancholy character, which, as known, can be a veritable villain. Iago instinctively knows that Desdemona will come to grow weary of the Blackamoor, and he detects her attraction to the young, handsome, and white Cassio. As head and meta-theatrical director, Iago sets out to compress time, and so exert pressure on the other characters. As a result, what would normally take place over a longer stretch of time, becomes quickly contracted in the space of a play. Moreover, considering how the ‘future’ is brought forward, the present appears more ambivalent. From Iago’s point of view, is Desdemona a potential or an inevitable adulteress? To think the worst is, for the villain, to think realistically. Seeing time as following the rules of trivial consistency and verisimilitude (rendering the future predictable), makes it perfectly natural for Iago to consider Desdemona as an unfaithful woman, and Cassio, a coxcomb who plays around with other men’s wives. Furthermore, the Moor is Black, and despite his “fairness”, he will soon become a bad Negro again. Time will prove me right, Iago meditates. Thus, he zips time to triumph further and faster. The last section of the essay is dedicated to the occurrences of the word time in the play, with specific commentaries under the shadow of the secular exegesis, and in line with the critical assumptions made. Finally, in the discussion, the darker side of Iago is also explored, with careful assessment of the extensive bibliography on the subject.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1925-4768
  • ISSN(Online): 1925-4776
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: quarterly

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