Critical Essays On Iago

7In addition to prompting a reassessment of Iago, the nineteenth-century view of Shakespeare's characters as expressions of fundamental truths about human nature stimulated a growing interest in Desdemona.

And this method, by which the conflict begins late, and advances without appreciable pause and with accelerating speed to the catastrophe, is a main cause of the painful tension" (131). For Knight, Bradley's Romantic reading of the play as an anatomy of generalized human nature misses the point completely. Knights's objection to Bradley, famously articulated in his mockingly-titled essay "How Many Children Had Lady Macbeth" (1933), lies in what he sees as Bradley's refusal to acknowledge Shakespearean tragedy's status as poetry.

This analysis of the structural basis for the feelings of frantic and claustrophobic intensity generated in the play has gone on to shape the insights of many later critics. "In ," Knight claims, "we are faced with the vividly particular rather than the vague and universal," and his own reading of the play focuses on explicating the symbolic function of its characters and celebrating what he calls the play's "formal beauty" (109). Knights accuses Bradley of treating the plays as novels, an approach he claims leads to an erroneous emphasis on their psychological dimensions at the expense of their verbal constructions.

His jealousy is not the jealousy of the heart, which is compatible with the tenderest feeling and adoration of the beloved object; it is of that sensual kind which, in burning climes, has given birth to the disgraceful confinement of women and many other unnatural usages.

A drop of this poison flows in his veins, and sets his whole blood in the wildest ferment.


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