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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 437

He can trust him to use violence, but thinks he may bungle anything that requires adroitness.

     (3) When the conversation breaks off here (225) Iago has brought Othello back to the position reached at the end of the temptation-scene (III. iii). Cassio and Desdemona are to be killed; and, in addition, the time is hastened; it is to be 'to-night', not 'within three days.'

     The constructional idea clearly is that, after the Temptation scene, Othello tends to relapse and wait, which is terribly dangerous to Iago, who therefore in this scene quickens his purpose. Yet Othello relapses again. He has declared that he will not expostulate with her (IV. i. 217). But he cannot keep his word, and there follows the scene of accusation. Its dramatic purposes are obvious, but Othello seems to have no purpose in it. He asks no questions, or, rather, none that shows the least glimpse of doubt or hope. He is merely torturing himself.




     (1) V. ii. 71 f. Desdemona demands that Cassio be sent for to 'confess' the truth that she never gave him the handkerchief. Othello answers that Cassio has confessed the truth -- has confessed the adultery. The dialogue goes on:

   Des.  He will not say so.
   Oth.  No, his mouth is stopp'd:
Honest Iago hath ta'en order for't.
   Des.  O! my fear interprets: what, is he dead?
   Oth.  Had all his hairs been lives, my great revenge
Had stomach for them all.
   Des.  Alas! he is betray'd and I undone.

     It is a ghastly idea, but I believe Shakespeare means that, at the mention of Iago's name, Desdemona suddenly sees that he is the villain whose existence he had declared to be impossible when, an hour before, Emilia had suggested that someone had poisoned Othello's mind. But her words rouse Othello to

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