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rachplatt
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I am writing an essay about two contrasting quotations in Othello. I have chosen 'I am not what I am' and 'Men should be what they seem' both by Iago in Act 1 Sc 1 and Act 3 Sc 3 respectively. I am focusing mainly on how these quotations show his duplicity. But can anyone help me think of other things I might include? What evidence could I use to show his possible homosexuality?? (was it coleridge who suggested this?)
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gringalet
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Iago is a duplicitous ******* throughout the entire play, as I'm sure you're well aware of! Maybe you could look at some of the stuff he says about other characters, to them and behind their backs, especially Othello. You could also maybe develop it into Iago's general 'problems', for want of a better word, like his "motiveless malignity" (Coleridge, methinks) and things like that, how he twists people [maybe specifically with his language], his conniving... He is quite an ambiguous character, and you might be able to link that with duplicity.

Wow, check that for pretentiousness PM me if none of it made sense, and I might be able to explain myself more clearly!
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chloe_sh
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Personally I think Iago is gay. (However, when Olivier tried to depict this aspect of the character, the production was to the average theatre-goer impenetrable, incomprehensible and a failure.) The reason I think that this interpretation is interesting is because, for me, Coleridge's view is somewhat lacking, i.e. Shakespeare does not present Iago as motiveless. The duplicity is apparent in that whilst his actions are "evil", and his spoken reasons perhaps insufficient, an examination of his language brings out all kinds of interesting and hidden neuroses, (especially about sex). One could explore this as a conscious motive which Iago hides from others, or as a subconscious motive which, perhaps, he hides from himself. In a wider sense, you could look at the way that Iago dupes himself, in addition to his actions towards others.
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rachplatt
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Thanks for your help...who was it that suggested Iago might be gay?? Other than times when he says he loves Othello I can not find any evidence for it in the text! please help thanks x
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Sian01
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(Original post by rachplatt)
Thanks for your help...who was it that suggested Iago might be gay?? Other than times when he says he loves Othello I can not find any evidence for it in the text! please help thanks x
Theres that whole scene, when Iago and Othello do that weird vow thing (Like a marriage vow) and he says "I am yours favour".
Pherhaps tie it in with the idea of him constanlty being jealous of Desdemona and his motivation, not being jealous of Cassio, but is to get Des out of the picture, and battles for Othello's affection throughout the play, so he can be his "one true love" not Des.
Hmmm not sure if that actually makes any sense, sorry!
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silence
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iago is gay. in that scene where we see othello get down on his knees, it's actually because he wants to ummm, find out if iago happens to have a circumcised "dog".

i can't see too much [homo]sexuality in iago - i get the feeling that he wishes to destroy othello and it just so happens that desdemona is the only item of value that he has. in fact, she is more than an item; she constitutes the national identity and social status which he has been seeking, and is perhaps the icing on the cake after a long and respectable military career. taking away desdemona (directly or indirectly) is the ultimate way to destroy othello, or even cause him to destroy himself. imagery of black rams and white ewes is, to me, more about the animalistic nature aimed by iago to be provocative regarding othello's racial background, or even possibly reflecting his very own bestial destructive behaviour. the tupping is merely an essentially animalistic quality.
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gringalet
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Iago definitely does seem sexually ambiguous. He doesn't love his wife, and only seems concerned about being cuckolded because of his reputation and honour (which he relies on so much), rather like Othello could be seen to. It kind of seems that, like Othello, he only trusts and believes in the world war and the army, the world of <i>men</i>, and Desdemona is upsetting the whole balance; so, it might not be that he's exactly gay, just not really 'into' women either.

Aah, such is the beauty of Shakespeare. I really ought to read this play again (as no doubt you lot are all thinking as you read my drivel ).
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weatherwaxed
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"i am not what i am"

this quote is a religious reference, parodying the word of God in the bible: "I am that which i am"

it's another of these lines that relates Iago to Satan, the most sneaky and two faced character of all!

not what you were asking for, but still worth a mention!
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igloo
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At the beginning of the play: Iago swears "By Janus!" Janus: 2 faced god of the New Year (=Roman I think). Very appropriate for Iago.
Homosexuality: when he describes to Othello, how when he "laid" with Cassio- Cassio, in his dream, mumbled his love for Desdemona etc. and started feeling up Iago; perhaps an indication of Iago's 'lust' for Cassio= in that he is describing to Othello, what he wants Cassio to do to him.
Hope this helps.
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silence
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no way. shakespeare simply wouldn't bother making a gay character. anyway, we're in venice, remember. italian men (particularly romans) have always had an extra degree of intimacy between each other, without any homoerotic associations (well not the romans - they did actually give each other one in the public baths). It's very much a continental thing for men to be close in such a way, and although any imagery of cassio inappropriately groping a fellow soldier might seem to us rather "gay", it really wouldn't have been seen like that in elizabethan/jacobean england.
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Rose64
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(Original post by silence)
no way. shakespeare simply wouldn't bother making a gay character.
What about Mercutio (Romeo and Juliet)? Why 'wouldn't he bother'?
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Endymion
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I think a 'gay' Shakespeare is something that can be argued for or against. I know this is a huge on going debate amoungst critics. You should check out some of Bruce R. Smith's criticism if you want to follow up the homosexuality theme in Shakespeare as he covers it well.
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silence
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in the film version; well, he does seem a little boy george like i guess. in the text, however, i never really considered him to swim that way up stream. he is relatively randy so to speak.. but i think that he's just meant to emphasise that sexual excitement of youth, maybe to antithesise romeo's love (which is somewhat more passionate than sexual?)

hmm i have been digging a bit of a hole for myself by saying shakespeare wouldn't bother making a gay character. from what i've read, homosexuality doesn't really occur in renaissance drama, particularly tragedies. maybe in some beaumont and fletcher play you might find a gay plumber or something obscure, but in mainstream drama from the period set in europe, there isn't really room for that extra degree of absurdity. any intrigue is more often adulterous, incestual or bloody - i think that introducing 'the only gay in the village' would have been an unknown quantity for the genre. my assertion had shakespearean tragedy in mind, and although the writer himself was a great innovator, he was complying with and influenced by other writers such as kyd (ur-hamlet?) and marlowe. despite shakespeare being renowned for his ultra-realistic characters, i do feel that.. well, i think i might have been wrong. this long-winded reply's actually turned into an argument against myself and i wouldn't now put it past shakespeare to tweak a character's emotional profile by just that extra bit. what i would say though is that subtlety would obviously be one of the main vehicles on which any homosexuality would be portrayed by a character.
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Rose64
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I agree that its mostly with a degree of subtlety that homosexuality is presented in Shakespeare/contemporaries (from what I've read), but I think it's definately present. Or, arguable atleast. I suppose that's obvious; I think I'm going to read some criticism on the subject as it's really interesting, thanks Endymion!
Hmm, as for Marlowe,I think there's some homo-eroticic undertones between Dr Faustus and Mephasophilis! What does everyone think?
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silence
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lol i think i'm so dirty minded that i read all these texts looking for the most filthy alusions possible, and miss out the subtlety. didn't spot faustus coming on to mephi..(spelt differently in just about every edition i've looked at) at all. i got myself into trouble today by suggesting that pope's line "when each new night-dress gives a new disease" shows belinda as a promiscuous slut with many stds.

as well as to look at criticism, i must remind myself to check out those portraits of shakespeare, as to see which the side on which he got his ear pierced. i think i've heard some critics talk about how shakespeare might have himself been a queer.

oh, and if you look at a ninth folio edition, it gives us the reading of "A mid bum-a-night's dream"
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Vickybaker
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there is no concrete evidence in the text to confirm that Iago's is gay. what can be confirmed is that Iago's sexuality is extremely twisted - he appears to like a bit of everything.... but i don't think it has much bearing on the question about his duplicity (as its more to do with self deception than the deception of others) in order to answer the question of duplicity you need to look at the disparity between what iago says and does. you can then tie in all the "i am not what i am" stuff and "janus" etc. it also might be worth saying that its very hard to know anything about iago for real as even his soliloquoys (which normally can be taken as the truth) appear convoluted and self-deceptive.

Also its worth looking at David Suchet's account of how he approached the role of Iago, its in a collection of essays called "Players of Shakespeare 2" published by the rsc. Good luck!
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