A Very Different Kind of Deceiving Soldier

I find the drastic difference between the way the soldiers are depicted in Much Ado and Othello very interesting. You can tell right off the bat this is going to be a different kind of play, as is opens In Media Res with Iago’s contempt of Othello and plot to destroy his life. Iago is obviously not the kind to respect authority, and I’m sure as the play goes on he will only develop further as a manipulative asshole. The steady stream of racial slurs out of his mouth in the first act alone says a lot about his character. I don’t know if this was less abhorrent in Shakespeare’s time as it is now, but either way anyone who uses people’s race as a weapon against them is shitty.

That being said, I do thing Iago is going to make the play very interesting for us. He would be more comparable to Don John in Much Ado, but I read Iago as being of similar status to Benedick and Claudio. Even considering Benedick’s contempt for love at the beginning of the play, he isn’t out to destroy Claudio’s life just because he’s in love. Iago seems all too happy to ruin the life of his commander out of sheer jealousy. It’s also interesting to note that while in the opening act Iago says that Othello knows nothing of war or the military, Othello demonstrates his knowledge in the meeting between him and the Senate.

Returning to the comparison between this and Much Ado, I think that the father-daughter relationships are also polar opposites. While Hero’s father wants her to marry Claudio and is excited, Desdemona’s is already depicted as an overprotective father (referencing how he already turned down Roderigo) and is furious to learn of her marriage to a wealthy man of status. Whether it has to do with race is still unclear, but it’s definitely hinted at.

I already find this play a lot more interesting than the comedies we read, as there is already a lot of dramatic tension right from the very beginning. Instead of working towards the goal of love, the love has already been reached, and now we are working towards it’s destruction and what seems like one man’s attempt to break another. I’m excited to see where this goes as we get further on in the play.

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2 thoughts on “A Very Different Kind of Deceiving Soldier

  1. Marie

    I enjoyed your string of words to describe the comparison of the soldiers in Much Ado and Othello. I also wondered if Brabanzio was more outraged at his daughter because Othello is a Moor and was angry at her decision based on a race issue or because he was just upset that Desdemona stole away in the middle of the night to marry a man without his permission. From the soldiers to the fathers in Much Ado and Othello, the comparisons and contrasts complete a full circle. Interestingly, both fathers are able to disown and shun daughter at the drop of the hat. In Much Ado, Hero’s father will not even look at her or talk to her when Claudio accuses her of cuckolding him during their wedding. In Othello, Brabanzio uses words that disown Desdemona and passionately degrade her for her wrongs. As also discussed today in class, Othello starts in complete chaos. Iago establishes that the character’s he controls will feel panic and destruction. I completely agree that the goal most comedies desire has already been attained; finding love and marrying. I wonder if this is not in some way an interesting continuation of comedies. If Shakespeare’s tragedies are in some way what happens after the fairy tale endings of comedies. We have discussed how comedies hold dark shadows of truth. We have seen how these shadows overpower the light endings of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, and Much Ado. I am pumped to read more tragedies (as ironic as that may seem) because I wonder if starting with the establishment of how the comedies we have read ended, is not a continuation of the overlying shadow coming fully out. I too am excited to read what happens to the love of Othello and Desdemona and the hate of Iago.

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  2. stanisck1

    You make many valid points of how the idea of “deceiving” solider” is different compared to in other plays. It’s a brilliant idea and comparison of how the father-daughter relationship is indeed more protective. I agree with you’re standing on this; that Desdemona is a protective parent and you can see it not only in the lines you mentioned but others as well. The question is, whether or not that protective instinct will, in the end, be his downfall or not. Will he ever okay the idea of giving his daughter away; and that won’t turn out as bad as it did with in “Much Ado Without Nothing,”

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