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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 439

speare mean us to feel thus, and to realize how completely confused and perverted Othello's mind has become? I suppose so: and yet Othello's words continue to strike me as very strange, and also as not like Othello -- especially as at this point he was not in anger, much less enraged. It has sometimes occurred to me that there is a touch of personal animus in the passage. One remembers the place in Hamlet (written but a little while before) where Hamlet thinks he is unwilling to kill the King at his prayers, for fear they may take him to heaven; and one remembers Shakespeare's irony, how he shows that those prayers do not go to heaven, and that the soul of this praying murderer is at that moment as murderous as ever (see p. 171), just as here the soul of the lying Desdemona is angelic in its lie. Is it conceivable that in both passages he was intentionally striking at conventional 'religious' ideas; and, in particular, that the belief that a man's everlasting fate is decided by the occupation of his last moment excited in him indignation as well as contempt? I admit that this fancy seems un-Shakespearean, and yet it comes back on me whenever I read this passage.




     I have answered No (p. 216), and have no doubt about the matter; but at one time I was puzzled, as perhaps others have been, by a single phrase of Emilia's. It occurs in the conversation between her and Iago and Desdemona (IV. ii. 130 f.):

I will be hang'd if some eternal villain,
Some busy and insinuating rogue,
Some cogging, cozening slave, to get some office,
Have not devised this slander; I'll be hang'd else.

Emilia, it may be said, knew that Cassio was the suspected man, so that she must be thinking of his office, and must mean that Iago has poisoned Othello's mind in order to prevent his reinstatement and to get the lieutenancy for himself. And, it may be said, she speaks indefinitely so that Iago alone may understand her (for Desdemona does not know that Cassio is

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