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-- Philip Weller, November 13, 1941 - February 1, 2021
Dr. Weller, an Eastern Washington University professor of English and Shakespearean scholar for more than 50 years.

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Bradley, A. C. Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth.
2nd ed. London: Macmillan, 1905.
PAGE 434

also knows. And this idea is consistent with Iago's apparent ignorance of Cassio's part in the courtship (III. iii. 93). And of course, if this were so, a word from Shakespeare to the actor who played Cassio would enable him to make all clear to the audience. The alternative, and perhaps more probable, explanation would be that, in writing Act I., Shakespeare had not yet thought of making Cassio Othello's confidant, and that, after writing Act III., he neglected to alter the passage in Act I. In that case the further information which Act III. gives regarding Othello's courtship would probably also be an after-thought.




     One reason why some readers think Othello 'easily jealous' is that they completely misinterpret him in the early part of this scene. They fancy that he is alarmed and suspicious the moment he hears Iago mutter 'Ha! I like not that,' as he sees Cassio leaving Desdemona (III. iii. 35) But, in fact, it takes a long time for Iago to excite surprise, curiosity, and then grave concern -- by no means yet jealousy -- even about Cassio; and it is still longer before Othello understands that Iago is suggesting doubts about Desdemona too. ('Wronged' in 143 certainly does not refer to her, as 154 and 162 show.) Nor, even at 171, is the exclamation 'O misery' meant for an expression of Othello's own present feelings; as his next speech clearly shows, it expresses an imagined feeling, as also the speech which elicits it professes to do (for Iago would not have dared here to apply the term 'cuckold' to Othello). In fact it is not until Iago hints that Othello, as a foreigner, might easily be deceived, that he is seriously disturbed about Desdemona.

     Salvini played this passage, as might be expected, with entire understanding. Nor have I ever seen it seriously misinterpreted on the stage. I gather from the Furness Variorum that Fechter and Edwin Booth took the same view as Salvini. Actors have to ask themselves what was the precise state of

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