Othello/2013

The Improvisation of Power by Stephen Greenblatt “Iago’s subordination is a kind of protection, for it conceals his power and enables him to play upon the ambivalence of Othello’s relation to Christian society .”
Iago uses his position as an ensign to conceal his true motive. Power of being able to manipulate and control the situation may seem to be in Othello’s hands due to his ranking as a General. However, as someone who holds great power, he is always being watched. For Iago, it is the opposite. He is able to use the excuse of aiding Othello to gain an upper-hand as he can “conceal his malicious intention” behind “the mask of dutiful service”.

Desdemona’s power
a. Othello’s narrative colonized by Desdemona. Throughout his life, Othello has been oppressed, so when Desdemona willingly submits to him, it displaces him. He has created an identity for himself as a slave turned military hero. Her submission threatens his self-control as it awakens a deep current of sexual anxiety in Othello that he “cannot speak enough of this content,/It stops me here, it is too much of joy.” He is so aroused that he cannot function, and leaves him with “a feeling at once of overflowing and inadequacy”. Desdemona has once again devoured up his discourse, and she has done so precisely in bringing him comfort and content. Rather than simply confirming male authority, her submission eroticizes everything to which it responds. Married sex = adulterous. (Adam and Eve) b. Desdemona’s obedience to her Husband, is disobedience to her Father. Brabantio is the “lord of all [her] duty” yet she does not seek his permission to marry Othello, undermining Brabantio’s position as her Father and a Senator. Desdemona “does not question the woman’s obligation to obey, invoking instead only the traditional right to transfer her duty”. However, she did not seek his consent in the first place, thus, deviating from the norm. While she willingly marries Othello, it was a decision that SHE chose, an unexpected display of power from a woman.

Self-fashioning is used to describe the process of constructing one’s identity and public persona according to a set of socially acceptable standards.
“Iago is fully aware of himself as an improviser and revels in his ability to manipulate his victims, to lead them by the nose like asses.”
Iago’s power lies in the fact he is able to improvise well, but he denies this. Evident when Desdemona asks him to improvise her praise, and he declares himself unfit. He has to hide his superpower so no one knows his secret identity (like Superman, but not). “Such is the relation Iago establishes with virtually every character in the play.” Othello: Cassio + Desdemona Roderigo: cheats him of his money Cassio: pretends to look out for him

Iago has no motives. inscribed anew in a different narrative. and the signals to which they respond and ignore . Othello tells Brabantio his life story so that he can win Brabantio’s pity for himself. refashioning and reinterpretation.seeing his way into other people’s stories . Iago’s methods: . Iago manages to avoid it. he becomes a character that anyone can use to turn against him.Othello/2013 Narrative identity is vulnerable to consumption. only stories of motives he tells the audience/other characters.seeing the way they interpret discourse. “He knows that an identity that has been fashioned as a story can be unfashioned.e gossip . He uses this knowledge to his advantage by making himself transparent in order to displace and absorb others (like a sponge) and becomes a character of his own narrative. Othello is unaware then that by doing this.telling stories based on comic possibilities i. refashioned.” While the other characters fall prey to their own self-fashioning. as he understands the stories other tell themselves. All characters create themselves with stories of their lives.

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