For No Reason Whatsoever From


For No Reason Whatsoever

From Othello, a passage that my college Shakespeare professor required us all to memorize and which, subsequently, hasn't left my head for a moment. It is really a very concise reflection on the nature of evil.

Othello, Act 3, Scene 3 Iago: Not poppy, nor mandragora,   Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world,   Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep   Which thou ow’dst yesterday.

Normally played as an aside or Iago speaking under his breath in the very presence of Othello. One could attribute Iago's actions to prejudice, to petty hatred because of a slight, or to any other of a myriad of causes. But the most likely explanation of Iago's act, it seems to me, is that he does what he does because he can. Pure and simple, he has the ability to destroy a life, and almost as an experiment, he does so. There's relatively little passion surrounding Iago's behavior and the play provides scant hints of reasons. But as a reflection on evil, Iago stands head and shoulders above the crowd. We have the ability to do so, therefore let us do it--how many "solutions" in the twentieth century have been mandated by this wisp of a reason?

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 4, 2002 7:52 AM.

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