Top-Rated Free Essay

Iago the Psychopath

Topics: Othello, Iago, Michael Cassio, Desdemona / Pages: 29 (9984 words) / Published: May 1st, 2014
Title: The Silence of Iago
Author(s): Daniel Stempel
Publication Details: PMLA 84.2 (Mar. 1969): p252-263.
Source: Shakespearean Criticism. Ed. Dana Ramel Barnes. Vol. 35. Detroit: Gale Research, 1997. p252-263. From Literature Resource Center.
Document Type: Critical essay
Bookmark: Bookmark this Document
Full Text: COPYRIGHT 1997 Gale Research, COPYRIGHT 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning

[In the essay below, Stempel examines Iago's motives and the irrationality of evil which, the critic argues, Shakespeare dramatized through Iago.]

In the final scene of Othello, Iago has been unmasked as the villain responsible for Othello's desperate act; there is no escape for him. Yet he spurns Othello's demand of an explanation, and, despite the threat of torture, maintains an obdurate silence. That silence, however, is not the mere bravado of a “Sparton Dogge”; it is the logical and ultimate fulfillment of Iago's boast to Roderigo in the opening scene:

For when my outward Action doth demonstrate
The natiue act, and figure of my heart
In Complement externe, 'tis not long after
But I will weare my heart vpon my sleeue
For Dawes to pecke at; I am not what I am.

Thus Iago takes refuge in silence, cloaking the native act and figure of his heart in darkness for all time. The critics, left (like Lodovico) with no satisfactory explanation of Iago's arrogant malignity, have racked the text with cunning cruelty, seeking an answer; every contradictory facet of Iago's ambiguous nature has been accounted for: his motives and his lack of motives, his honesty and his duplicity, his orthodoxy and his diabolism. But the play offers no solution; it gives us Iago, and, despite his disclaimer, he is what he is—we must accept him. Nevertheless, that acceptance must rest on something more substantial than the romantic admiration of a colossus of iniquity. Iago embodies the mystery of the evil will, an enigma which Shakespeare strove to realize, not to analyze. And if we follow, as best we can, Shakespeare's shaping of the mind and heart of Iago, we shall discover a profound unconscious irony beneath the conscious dissimulation of Iago's speeches, an irony whose significance is symbolized, paradoxically, by the final silence of Iago.

. . . . .

To Iago, of course, there is no mystery. The will is free to choose, unmoved by good or evil. When Roderigo asks his advice, “What should I do? I confesse it is my shame to be so fond, but it is not in my vertue to amend it,” Iago replies, “Vertue? A figge, 'tis in our selues that we are thus, or thus. Our bodies are our Gardens to the which, our Wills are Gardiners. So that if we will plant Nettels, or sowe Lettice: Set Hisope, and weede vp Time: Supplie it with one gender of Hearbes, or distract it with many: either to have it sterrill with idlenesse, or manured with Industry, why the power and Corrigeable authoritie of this lies in our Wills. If the braine of our liues had not one Scale of Reason, to poize another of Sensualitie, the blood, and basenesse of our Natures would conduct vs to most prepostrous Conclusions. But we haue Reason to coole our raging Motions, our carnall Stings, or vnbitted Lusts: whereof I take this, that you call Loue, to be a Sect, or Seyen” (I.iii.348-363).

Here again the critics are at odds. Bernard Spivack construes “vertue” as “the divine grace flowing into the otherwise helpless nature of man, creating there the power toward good without which salvation is not possible.” Iago, he claims, is “demolishing in a phrase the theological foundations beneath the whole system of Christian ethics. He is homo emancipatus a Deo, seeing the whole world and human life as self-sufficient on their own terms, obedient only to natural law, uninhibited and uninspired by any participation in divinity.” Spivack labels Iago a “Machiavel”: “Nature is Iago's goddess as well as Edmund's, with the articles of the ancient's faith even more explicit and wider in their application.”2 Yet Roland M. Frye, in Shakespeare and Christian Doctrine, quotes Luther, Calvin, and Hooker on individual responsibility for actions and concludes, “These remarks summarize the personal accountability insisted upon by the Christian tradition and accepted by Iago when he tells Roderigo that `'tis in ourselves we are thus or thus ... the power and corrigible authority of this lies in our wills'.”3

Both interpretations, however, mistake the meaning of virtue as Roderigo and Iago understand it. Neither is talking about morality per se; they are taking opposite sides on the question of human freedom. Roderigo is using “virtue” in the older sense of an innate trait of character, a meaning close to that of Machiavelli's virtù. He is pleading that he cannot help being what he is, and in this, he, not Iago, is the Machiavellian. As Leo Strauss points out, Machiavelli taught that “the specific nature of a man so far from being determined by him, by his choice or free will, determines him, his choice or free will.”4

The stage Machiavel, however, cannot be charged with a perversion of the actual doctrines of Il Principe, since the appellation was extended to any plotter against duly constituted authority. Recognizing this, Spivack is reluctant to use the term and warns, “Provided we extend the significance of the label beyond Machiavelli, since it embraces concepts of which Tudor England was conscious without the Florentine's instruction, Iago is a Machiavel.” He amplifies this warning by pointing out, “Applied to Iago, the Machiavellian label, while supplying some prefatory enlightenment, is too general to carry us very far into the moral meaning of his role. The high art that wrought him into the dense and exclusive design of his own play does not allow him to remain an undifferentiated specimen of villainous humanity according to the commonplace Elizabethan formula of the Machiavel.” This is an admirable summation and no judicious critic could possibly deny its accuracy; nevertheless it overlooks an important clue which supports Spivack's major theme, the survival of elements of the Vice of the morality play in Shakespeare's villains and specifically in Iago. Spivack stresses the strong moral and homiletic character of Iago's language; he writes, “A villain can act this way, but it is only Villainy in a Geneva gown that can talk this way.”5 A palpable hit indeed, but it misses the heart of the matter by pinking the wrong church and the wrong doctrine; it is not Villainy in a Geneva gown that talks this way, but Villainy in a black cassock.

Shortly before the staging of Othello in 1604 a new breed of Machiavel, “the monstrous combination Ignatian Matchivell,” had been created by the imaginative masters of Elizabethan polemic.6 To the patriotic defenders of the English crown against the encroachment of Spain and the Papacy, the association of Loyola and Machiavelli seemed natural and fitting, despite the Jesuit record of fierce opposition to Machiavellian secularism, for both, from the English point of view, had sacrificed morality to expediency. The Jesuitical Machiavel made his appearance as early as 1601 when a spokesman for the English Catholic secular clergy called the Society of Jesus “the very schoole of Machiavellisme.” J. Hull, a Protestant, accused the Jesuits of being “well practised in Machiavel, turning religion into pollicie” in The Unmasking of the Politique Atheist (1602).7 In The Downfall of Poperie (1604), Thomas Bell stated “that the Iesuits are right Machiavels, and that whosoeuer will adhere vnto them must depend vpon the deuil of hell.”8 To the Elizabethan the Jesuitical Machiavel seemed even more wicked than the conventional Machiavel who cast aside both religion and morality, for he justified his villainy by an appeal to faith and piety. This seeming contradiction, the blending of sanctity and crime, of hell boasting that it served heaven, was more shocking than open blasphemy. As a contemporary pamphlet put it, “But in the meane time you see the strange mysteries of the Iesuites doctrine that haue mingled heauen and hel, and lift vp the hands of Subiects against the anointed of God; arming them with the inuisible armour of Scriptures, Sacraments, Prayers and Blessings against their naturall Soueraigns.”9

The legendary obedience of Jesuits to their superiors was cited triumphantly by their foes as proof that they were ready to use any means to achieve the ends assigned to them. They were even accused of being prepared to poison the Pope himself “if their purposes and plots bee but a little crossed.”10 To a Jacobean audience, Iago was merely summing up standard Jesuit procedure when he impatiently prodded Brabantio: “Sir: you are one of those that will not serue God, if the deuill bid you” (I.i.121-122).

. . . . .

Although the Jesuitical Machiavel, unlike the traditional Machiavel, manipulated doctrine to further his schemes, his view of “personal accountability” was certainly not in agreement with the views of those strange bedfellows, Luther, Calvin, and Hooker. Mr. Frye disposes of the knotty abstractions of the problem of free will by assuring us, “Fortunately, we do not need to follow the intricacies of this matter, for Shakespeare did not employ them, and so we may turn to the theologians' practical teachings on freedom” (p. 157). After this neat amputation of practical morality from the living body of doctrine, Mr. Frye finds (to no one's surprise) that Luther, Calvin, and Hooker agree on man's possession of freedom and responsibility in the limited context of this world. But no serious moralist, outside of certain Oriental sects, would argue otherwise, any more than a competent politician would campaign against home and mother! The imposition of this spurious ecumenism suggests that a unanimity of opinion existed at a time when religious dissension and controversy were actually growing sharper and more hostile. It is far more likely that Shakespeare and his contemporaries were better acquainted with the points of difference between theologians than with their occasional admissions of a common ground, for these differences were vigorously defended, privately and publicly, by the warring factions. Iago's speech on free will cannot be understood by those who assume that Shakespeare would not have been acquainted with “the intricacies of this matter”; it is a carefully phrased exposition of a sharply defined viewpoint, not a vague generalization on “personal accountability.”

Iago, as I have suggested, is entirely unconcerned with the moral consequences of choice; it is all one to him, if we “will plant Nettels, or sowe Lettice: Set Hysope, and weede up Time.” He is arguing for the unimpeded freedom to choose what we will, good or evil. Surely it is not necessary to demonstrate that neither Luther nor Calvin granted the will that freedom which Iago claims for it. For both, as for St. Augustine, the human will is free only to sin, not to choose the good. Without the grace of God, man is the slave, not the master, of his will.11 Hooker, who follows Aquinas on this point, is much more liberal in expanding the scope of freedom of choice; yet there is also a fundamental difference between Hooker's freedom and Iago's. For Hooker, reason or “the show of reason” makes the choice and the will assents to it. The act of choice is initiated by the reason, not the will; thus, all sin begins with a clouding of the judgment rather than with a perverse will.12 Iago, in contrast, insists that will determines choice and reason must perforce assist it. The actual function of reason is to neutralize the pull of the appetites and leave the will absolutely free to make its choice. Reason is no more than an instrument of the will. As Virgil K. Whitaker sums it up, “with a nice sophistication Iago readjusts the accepted philosophy to his own wilfulness: reason must control the appetites, but so that they do not interfere with the will, to which the reason is therefore a servant.”13

But this is more than a readjustment of the accepted philosophy— it is an inversion of it, and Iago cannot be credited with its invention. At the time that Othello was first produced at the court (1604), a bitter controversy over free will was raging on the Continent. In his Spiritual Exercises St. Ignatius Loyola had called for the defense of the freedom of the will and justification by works against the attacks of Luther and Calvin: “Likewise we ought not to speak of grace at such length and with such emphasis that the poison of doing away with liberty is engendered. Hence, as far as is possible with the help of God, one may speak of faith and grace that the Divine Majesty may be praised. But let it not be done in such a way, above all not in times which are as dangerous as ours, that works and free will suffer harm, or that they are considered of no value.”14

The line of battle which was drawn, with the forces of the champions of grace on one side and those of free will on the other, was destined to cut an irregular path through the ranks of both Protestants and Catholics. Although others had prepared the way for him, the standard-bearer of the Jesuit army was Luis de Molina, a Spanish Jesuit who taught at Evora in Portugal. In 1588 Molina published a brilliantly argued defense of human freedom, Concordia liberi arbitrii cum gratiae donis, divina praescientia, providentia, praedestinatione et reprobatione.15 Molina's doctrines placed him in opposition not only to the heretics but to the stringent interpretation of Thomist theology by the Dominicans, who promptly accused him of teaching “Pelagianism.” A long struggle followed, as the Jesuits, with certain modifications of Molina's extreme position, united in his defense. In 1602 Pope Clement VIII summoned the Congregation de Auxiliis to judge the merits or defects of Molina's work; the Congregation carried on its deliberations through the short reign of Leo XI in 1605 and into the first years of Paul V's term of office. Finally, in 1607, the Pope declared that the quarrel was to be broken off without deciding for either party; the question was left open and the disputants were forbidden to label their opponents heretical. Since, after all the years of bitter debate, the Concordia had not been condemned, the Molinists hailed the decision as a victory.16

Molina's approach to the perennial problem of the reconciliation of divine grace and human freedom was to make man a completely free agent to whom grace was freely proffered. The crucial question for Molina was whether a man could choose to accept or reject grace; if he could not, he was not free. Liberty for Molina was the absence of any constraint alien to the human will. He resolutely blocked the loophole through which his opponents escaped the charge of determinism by asserting that an inner or “spontaneous” inclination of the will by God violates human freedom as much as any external constraint. Molina insisted that any antecedent cause, including the First Cause, was a determination outside the human will and therefore a limitation of its intrinsic freedom.

To harmonize divine providence with man's complete liberty of indifference—the freedom to act or not to act, or to take either of two contrary courses of action—Molina postulated three types of divine knowledge: scientia naturalis, the knowledge of all things possible; scientia libera, the knowledge of what God will decree to exist in actuality; and, between these, scientia media, the knowledge of what would be in any hypothetical circumstance. Through scientia media God foresees the acceptance or rejection of grace by men in diverse situations and then wills that the actual circumstances will be such that their response to the aids of grace is predictable, but not caused. As Anton C. Pegis suggests, Molina transfers the mystery of grace from the will of God to the will of man; sufficient grace is extended to all men, but it is efficacious only for those who, as God foresees, will exercise their free power of choice to accept it.17

That act of choice is not preceded by the judgment's rational selection of an end toward which the will is then directed, as the “accepted philosophy” taught. It is an act of pure freedom, directed from within; the will, in short, is autonomous.

Moreover, I think that freedom is in the will and not in the intellect and for the freedom of willing or nilling or refraining from action by not willing when we can will, and by not nilling when we can nill, not so much deliberation on the part of the intellect is necessary as many consider it to be, and much less the command of the intellect by which it orders the will to will or nill or to refrain from action; but for willing it is sufficient to have a notion of some good which manifests itself in the object as a thing pleasurable or useful or honorable. Indeed, if this good is not so great and so clearly known as to enforce necessity upon the will, as nothing is, except for God clearly seen, the will is free not to elicit action, although it usually elicits it, if the good is great and nothing prevents it from this eliciting. In a similar instance of a notion of some evil the same will is free to nill it and reject the object; and yet it is not constrained to nill, but it is able not to elicit the nolition by refraining from the act; although when the object is powerful it usually elicits nilling, unless there is something present which may move it from another direction not to elicit that (nilling) or even to a sorrowful embracing of the (evil object) because of a good conjoined with it. And so, since there is this disposition and notion on the part of the intellect, the will can by its innate liberty will or nill or elicit neither action.18

This liberty of indifference, founded on the autonomy of the will, is just what Iago claims for all men, brushing aside as weakness Roderigo's surrender to the domination of his affections. Iago's analysis of human freedom is so clearly defined that its source is unmistakable. It is, of course, completely at odds with the teachings of contemporary Protestant theology, Anglican or Calvinistic, as well as with the doctrines of the rigorous Thomists.19 Nor, as I have indicated, is there any evidence to show that this will-centered psychology was derived from Machiavelli or from the naturalistic stage Machiavel. We must conclude, I believe, that Iago is the spokesman of Jesuit “Pelagianism”; and if we follow the direction indicated by this significant clue, perhaps we shall come closer to the heart of the mystery concealed by Iago's (and Shakespeare's) baffling silence.

. . . . .

Like all Englishmen of his time, Shakespeare was exposed to a flood of anti-Jesuit literature. The Jesuits, driven into hiding by the zeal of the Queen's men, were likely targets for the technique of the big lie, a favorite device of Elizabethan pamphleteers of all persuasions, few of whom were noted for veracity or temperate language. Frank L. Huntley, in an article on “Macbeth and the Background of Jesuitical Equivocation,” has traced the history of this anti-Jesuit propaganda and has shown that it was flourishing long before the outbreak of popular indignation at the time of the Gunpowder Plot.20 Shakespeare was acquainted with at least one of these tracts, Samuel Harsnett's A Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures (1603), which he used as a source in Lear. Although Othello was written and staged a year before the Gunpowder Plot, no one would have been surprised to see a Jesuitical villain, especially in a drama with a Venetian setting.21

Most of the animosity directed toward the Jesuits was political in origin, since they were regarded as subverters of royal authority, but their theological doctrines, at a time when theology and politics were inextricably blended, were also singled out for attack. A specific reference to the Molinist controversy was made by the anonymous author of “The secular Priests Preface to the English Catholiques” in The Iesuites Catechisme (1602). One faction in the secular clergy of the Roman Church in England regarded the Jesuits as foreign interlopers and spies, and did not hesitate to make their grievances known both at home and abroad. To his readers, the unnamed cleric piously pointed out the perilous ground on which his opponents were even then treading: “At this instant, there is a great and most dangerous contention in particular, betwixt them and the Dominicans, about a speciall point of grace.”22

This “speciall point of grace” had also been noted by William Perkins, the popular preacher and casuist of Cambridge University. In “The Epistle Dedicatorie” of A Treatise of Gods free Grace and Mans Free-Will (1602), Perkins, addressing Sir Edward Dennie, wrote, “Right Worshipfull, it is a thing most evident, that the present Religion of the Church of Rome, is an enemie to the grace of God, two waies.”23 First, Perkins stated, “because it exalts the libertie of mans will, and extenuates the grace of God,” and, second, because it teaches justification through works as well as faith. Under the former of these two headings, Perkins divided his charges into five specific points, two of which bear directly on the issues brought up by Molina and the Jesuits: “Secondly, some of the Romish Religion avouch, that the efficacie of Gods preventing grace, depends upon the cooperation of mans will: and they affirme, that the Councell of Trent is of this minde: but then to the question of Paul, 1 Cor.4.7. Who hath separated thee? The answer may be made, I my selfe have done it by mine own will. And that shall be false which Paul teacheth, that beside posse velle, the power of wel-willing, ipsum velle: that is, the act of wel-willing, is of God, P phil, 2.13.” In a marginal gloss Perkins quotes from “Molina de grat. & lib. arb.”: “Gratiae auxilia, quod efficacia sint, habent dependenter ab arbitrii libertate.”

As his third point, Perkins charged, “They give unto God in all contingent actions, a depending will, whereby God wills and determines nothing, but according as he fore-sees, that the will of man determine it selfe. And thus to maintaine the supposed libertie of the will, that is, the indifferencie and indetermination thereof, they deprive God of his honour and soveraigntie. For by this meanes, not God, but the will it selfe, is the first moover and beginner of her owne actions. And there are even of the Papists themselves, that condemne this doctrine as a conceit.”

Perkins, the most influential of the Puritan divines, was shocked by the immense power given to the will of man by the Jesuits. His own definition of the will is “Will, is a power of willing, choosing, refusing suspending, which depends on reason.... And in every act of will there are two things, Reason to guide and Election to assent, or dissent” (Works, 1, 703). For Perkins, as for Calvin, there are two kinds of liberty, the liberty of nature, which is simply the power of choice, whether it is effective or not, and the liberty of grace, “which is a power to will or nill well, or to will that which is good, & to nill that which is evil” (Works, 1, 708). Without grace the will is not free to choose good; further, “there is not only an Impotencie to good, but such a forcible proneness & disposition to evil, as that we can do nothing but sinne.” Perkins sees man in his fallen state as a prisoner: “The prisoner though he have lost a great part of his liberty, yet hath he not lost all for within the prison he may (as he will) either sit, stand, lie, or walke. And though he which is captive to sinne can do nothing but sin, yet may he in sinning use his liberty: & in the divers kinds of evil intended, shew the freedome of his will” (Works, 1, 711).

For Perkins, God's grace, when granted, is irresistible; it is not in the power of the will to reject it. The Jesuit doctrine of the cooperation of free will and grace seemed to him to be “much derogatorie to the divine grace of God, to place the efficacie thereof in mans will & it ministers much matter of boasting unto men.” Beside this passage he also supplied a marginal gloss from Molina, “L. Molina saith, that our will maketh grace to be effectuall. De. li. arb. pag. 326. 327. and sometime againe he saith, will is but a condition, and no cause of the efficacie of grace, p. 329. Yet alwaies he graunteth, that it lieth in mans will whether grace shall be effectual, or no. Thus when grace is offered on Gods part, wil within stands as the Porter, to open or shut, or as master Controller to accept or reject the worke of God” (Works, 1, 716).

Perkins had evidently studied the views of all parties in the Molinist controversy and triumphantly decided the question in favor of the greater glory of divine grace and Calvin's theology: “Lumbard in his time much declined from the purity of former daies: and yet he is far sounder than the Iesuites of our daies. For he saith thus: Freewill is now hindered by the law of the flesh from doing good, and stirred up to evill, so as it can not will and doe good, unlesse it be delivered and helped by grace. We leaving the Papistes in their dissensions, place the efficacie of grace in grace itselfe” (Works, 1, 717).

These quotations, from Catholic and Protestant sources, indicate that the Molinist debate was no minor theological squabble unknown in England. Assuming then that Shakespeare had some knowledge of contemporary Jesuit doctrine and practices, let us turn to the text of the play and see where our hypothesis will lead us. As a general impression, it is noteworthy that, for a play ostensibly about military men and events, the language owes as much to the jargon of the pulpit as to the oaths and boasts of the cockpit.

Roland Frye points out, “Predestination was a labyrinth into which one was well advised not to wander, and only Cassio does wander into it, in his maudlin discussion with Iago: `there be souls must be saved, and there be souls must not be saved,' and `the Lieutenant is to be saved before the ancient'” (p. 147). Frye sees no significance in Cassio's lines; it is simply the stock comic situation of a drunken discussion of a serious topic. Yet these lines would be more suited to an officer in Cromwell's New Model Army than to a bawdy young Florentine. Cassio's drunken jest is a twisting of a theme that runs through the play, culminating in Desdemona's dying words and in Othello's speeches before and after her murder. From the Calvinistic point of view, there is more truth in Cassio's babbling than in Iago's brilliant rationalizations. It is Othello who bitterly and tersely phrases that truth after the revelation of Desdemona's innocence: “But (oh vaine boast) / Who can controll his Fate?” (V.ii.327-328).

In contrast, Iago, the champion of the absolute autonomy of the will, shows no remorse, but simply withdraws behind a wall of defiant indifference after he has lost his power to manipulate circumstances. If he is no longer free to act, he is at least free not to act, to remain silent and unmoved by accusations and threats. The consistency of Iago's thought and behavior throughout the play, reflecting his unshaken belief in the doctrine of freedom which he expounds to Roderigo, may provide a new reading for a baffling crux in one of his earliest speeches, a reading which is closely linked to the recurrent theme of predestination. This theme, as we have seen, appears in Cassio's speech as a variation of the perennial theological riddle which asks why, of two men, one is to be saved and the other damned. If we alter Iago's reference to Cassio in the first scene, “A Fellowe almost damn'd in a faire Wife” to “A Fellowe almost damn'd in a faire Wise” (I.i.23), and place it in the context of Iago's “divinity of hell,” it becomes a meaningful statement of Iago's pride in his own unfettered will and his scorn for Cassio, “the Bookish Theoricke.”24 As Father Brodrick explains it in his life of Cardinal Bellarmine, “Another of Molina's propositions ran as follows: it might happen that a man with more and greater graces than his fellow should be damned, while that other, owing to his correspondence with the lesser graces given him, should be saved.”25 It is indeed possible, according to this proposition, to be damned in a fair wise. Iago readily concedes Cassio's greater graces, the favor of Othello and “a dayly beauty in his life / That makes me vgly” (V.i.22-23), but his self-confidence remains unshaken; his lesser graces can be used efficaciously for his advantage while Cassio is the passive victim of his apparent superiority. Here, as elsewhere in the play, Shakespeare seems to be forcing to its extreme conclusions Iago's advocacy of the Jesuit emphasis on the self-determination of the will.

While this may seem to be mere casuistical juggling to us, it was a vital question in an age which took its theology seriously. In the earlier text of his sermon of 18 April 1619, John Donne noted that the problem had been crucial for both Jesuits, and, one assumes, English Arminians: “Consider the other faculty, the will of man, and thereby those bitternesses which have passed between the Jesuites and the Dominicans in the Romane Church, even to the imputation of the crime of heresie upon one another in questions concerning the will of man, and how that concurs with the grace of God; particularly whether the same proportion of grace being offered by God to two men, equally disposed towards him before, must not necessarily worke equally in those two: and by those bitternesses amongst persons neerest us, even to the drawing of swords in questions of the same kinde, particularly whether that proportion of grace, which doth effectually convert a particular man, might not have been resisted by the perversnes of that mans will, whether that grace were irresistible or noe.”26

Casuistry, in fact, forms the pattern of Iago's reasoning throughout the play, in keeping with his character as a Jesuitical Machiavel. He is a master of the art of judging cases of conscience—for the advancement of his own aims, of course. His first speech to Othello bolsters his much vaunted reputation for honesty by referring to a scruple of conscience somewhat alien to a professional soldier:

Though in the trade of Warre I haue slaine men,
Yet do I hold it very stuffe o' th' conscience
To do no contriu'd Murder:

In his speech on virtue, Iago delivers a brief lecture on self-control to Roderigo, pointing out to him that the appetites are under the rule of the will; love, Iago tells him, is “meerly a Lust of the blood, and a permission of the will” (I.iii.365-366). “Permission” is used in its exact scholastic sense; it indicates that love is not caused by the will since it is an appetite, “a Lust of the blood,” but it is allowed to exist because the will does not act against it, just as God does not cause evil but permits it to exist. Cynically, Iago reviews for Roderigo all the reasons for not giving way to despair, punctuating his discourse with repeated admonitions to pile up riches: “If thou wilt needs damne thy selfe, do it a more delicate way than drowning. Make all the Money thou canst” (I.iii.382-383). His cunning casuistry and his greed are both in keeping with the popular image of the Jesuit. John Manningham noted in his diary that Roger Fenton, an Anglican casuist, preaching at Paul's Cross on 21 November 1602, warned, “Popishe priests and Jesuites play fast and loose with mens consciences. Jesuites come into riche mens houses, not to bring them salvacion, but because there is something to be fisht for.”27

When Cassio, lamenting the loss of his good name, turns to Iago, he is reminded that “Reputation is an idle, and most false imposition; oft got without merit, and lost without deseruing” (II.ii.297-299), as Iago suits his moralizing to his man. His task is to induce Cassio to take his suit to Desdemona, not to give up all hope of recovery, and so Iago carefully nurtures his expectations with a liberal waiver of Cassio's error: “Come, you are to seuere a Moraller. As the Time, the Place, & the Condition of this Country stands I could hartily wish this had not befalne: but since it is, as it is, mend it for your owne good” (II.ii.327-330). This is certainly the language of the casuist; it echoes the opinion of William Perkins, Shakespeare's contemporary, and the founder of “the Divine Science of Cases of Conscience” in England: “For it hath bin prooved at large, by induction of sundrie particulars, that there are degrees of sinnes, some lesser, some greater: some more offensive and odious to God and man, some lesse. And that the circumstances of time, place, person, and maner of doing, doe serve to enlarge or extenuate the sin committed.”28

After Iago has persuaded Cassio to ask for Desdemona's intercession, he congratulates himself on his skill in handling cases of conscience:

And what's he then,
That saies I play the Villaine?
When this aduise is free I giue, and honest,
Proball to thinking, and indeed the course
To win the Moore againe.

“Proball,” which has usually been taken as a contraction of “probable,” may have a specific and pertinent meaning in this context. Certain Jesuit casuists were noted for their application of the rule of probability (“probabilism”) in cases of doubtful conscience. Where authorities disagreed on a moral question, the less probable opinion was allowed as long as it was supported by a reputable source; that is, the rule of reasonable doubt was invoked to the benefit of the sinner. Writing of differing opinions on equivocation among the Jesuits, Bishop Thomas Morton noted, “These may seem contrarie to men of synceritie, but among these speakers, in their practically judgement, there is no contradiction: for they have another winding in this their Labyrinth, that Many times the lesse probable opinion is to be followed. So then as yet we have but an Eele by the tayle. Againe, to determine against so damnable a doctrine onely in these termes, More probable; yea and peradventure more probable: I say, to doubt of such a Protestant and orthodoxall truth, is doubtlesse to deny it.”29 Iago is certain that the advice he has given Cassio is most probable indeed and deserves the approbation of the strictest moralist:

How am I then a Villaine,
To counsell Cassio to this paralell course,
Directly to his good?

The question is ironic, of course; Iago savors his own duplicity, viewing with delight the prospect of using Desdemona's virtue “to enmesh them all.” What he is practicing is not that Casuistical Divinity which Perkins claimed to have purified from all Roman error, but the “Diuinitie of hell' of the Jesuits:30

When deuils will the blackest sinnes put on,
They do suggest at first with heauenly shews,
As I do now.

Again this is part of the Elizabethan caricature of the Jesuit. As early as 1583, the Puritan Phillip Stubbes, fired by piety and patriotism, had emptied the vials of his wrath on the Jesuits in a diatribe whose charges were to be repeated ad nauseam in the following decades: “And forsooth these goodlie fellowes, the diuels agents, that must work these feates, are called (in the diuels name) by the name of Iesuites, seminaries preests, and catholikes, vsurping to themselves a name neuer heard of till of late daies, being indeed a name verie blasphemously deriued from the name of Iesus, and improperly alluded and attributed to themselues.” He warned, “Take heed of those fellowes that haue mel in ore, verba lactis, sweet words and plausible speeches: for they haue fel in corde, and Fraudem faclis, Gall in their harts & deceit in their deeds. So falleth it out with these ambidexters, these hollow harted friends, where they intend destruction, then will they couer it with the cloke or garment of amity & friendship; therefore are they not to be trusted.”31

Having gained the confidence of Roderigo and Cassio in this manner, Iago applies his ability in manipulating consciences to Othello. After inserting the thin edge of doubt between Othello's reason and his love, Iago establishes himself as an incorruptible authority on morals who cannot gloss over the faults of his countrywomen:

In Venice, they do let Heauen see the prankes
They dare not shew their Husbands.
Their best Conscience,
Is not to leaue't vndone, but kept vnknowne.

And Desdemona, Iago points out, may be no better than the others. His syllogism is simple and valid: Venetian women are not to be trusted; Desdemona is a Venetian woman; therefore Desdemona is not to be trusted. Since Iago is a Venetian, Othello must take his word for it and accept his major premise; he knows the minor premise is true; and so he is forced, with the help of Iago's pertinent thrusts at Desdemona, to the inevitable conclusion.32 Iago's analysis is so plausible that Othello pays tribute to his skill in casuistry:

This Fellow's of exceeding honesty,
And knowes all Quantities with a learn'd Spirit
Of humane dealings.

But everything which Othello has been told is an equivocation, not an outright lie but a clever perversion of the truth. The irony of Iago's pose as a simple honest soldier, a plaindealer, is sharpened by his protestations to Othello:

Oh wretched Foole,
That lou'st to make thine Honesty, a Vice!
Oh monstrous world! Take note, take note (O World)
To be direct and honest, is not safe.

Yet, like the English Jesuits, Iago demonstrates a certain care in the phrasing of an oath; he has mental reservations and he guards himself against overstepping their bounds. Unlike the emancipated Machiavel, Iago will not swear a false oath. When Othello swears “by yond Marble Heauen,” meaning God and His angels, “In the due reuerence of a Sacred vow” (III.iii.523-524), Iago deliberately takes the word “heaven” in its purely natural sense: “Witnesse you euer-burning Lights aboue, / You Elements, that clip vs round about” (III.iii.527-528). Since, unlike Edmund, he does not worship Nature, the oath is meaningless, and he has not forsworn himself.

It is worth noting that as Iago plies his craft, enmeshing Othello in a cleverly woven net of moral decisions, he can be as liberal as the most lax of the Jesuit casuists. Indeed, he is at times much more forgiving than Othello, and his liberality serves his purpose, for it kindles Othello's wrath. Othello is impatient with subtle distinctions between right and wrong; he has a passion for justice and, once his mind is made up, he acts swiftly. It is Iago who advises Othello to let Desdemona live (III.iii.541); his advice, of course, is savagely rejected. When Othello writhes at the suggestion that Desdemona has been “naked with her Friend in bed, / An houre, or more, not meaning any harme” (IV.i.7-8), Iago shrugs it off as a mere peccadillo, “If they do nothing, 'tis a Veniall slip.” Othello, in contrast, shares the Protestant horror of temptation: “They that meane vertuously, and yet do so, / The Diuell their vertue tempts, and they tempt Heauen.”

Iago puts the matter as a hypothetical case of conscience: “But if I giue my wife a Handkerchiefe / ... Why then 'tis hers (my Lord) and being hers / She may (I thinke) bestow't on any man” (IV.i.14, 16-17). When Othello asks if she may also bestow her honor wherever she wishes, Iago sneers at his lack of sophistication: “Her honor is an Essence that's not seene, / They haue it very oft, that haue it not.” Again, as with Cassio, he reduces honor to a mere fiction, an abstraction without substance; Iago is concerned only with things that can be seen, the “ocular proof” demanded by Othello: “But for the Handkerchiefe.” Having focused Othello's attention on his one tangible item of evidence, he pursues his hypothetical instance one step farther: “What if I had said, I had seene him do you wrong? / Or heard him say ...” Although Iago can offer no proof of the first of these alternatives, he is eager to supply new evidence for the second. His hypothesis suddenly comes closer to reality—if it is not ocular proof, it is at least hearsay.

The close juxtaposition of these alternatives confuses the enraged Othello and he falls into Iago's snare. As he listens to Iago's tale of Cassio's boasted conquest of Desdemona, he fails to distinguish between the two, and accepts hearsay for ocular proof. Yet, even as he swoons in a fit, overcome by the strength of his passions, his broken mutterings reveal a scrupulous conscience untouched by Iago's malign casuistry; Othello, the magnanimous hero, has a greatness of soul which encompasses mercy as well as justice: “To confesse, and be hang'd for his labour. First, to be hang'd and then to confesse: I tremble at it” (IV.i.46-48). “Confess and be hanged” is a stock phrase; Othello reverses it, but trembles at the thought of sending even Cassio to eternal damnation without absolution. It is the same scruple of conscience that prevents him from killing Desdemona without giving her an opportunity to confess her sins: “I would not kill thy unprepared Spirit, / No, Heauens forfend, I would not kill thy Soule” (V.ii.37-38). It is only by his clever appeal to Othello's outraged sense of justice that Iago can quell the natural insurrection of mercy: “But yet the pitty of it, Iago: oh Iago, the pitty of it” (IV. i.214).

Iago turns every favorable circumstance to account, never forgetting his immediate purpose: to enmesh them all while leaving himself unharmed and the master of the situation. It is necessary for him to get rid of all three, Cassio, Othello, and Desdemona, in as brief a span of time as possible so that his plot may not be betrayed. Iago volunteers to serve as Cassio's “undertaker” and cunningly changes Othello's design to poison Desdemona by suggesting that it would be more just to strangle her in the bed which she has dishonored. Since Othello will be alone with Desdemona, there will be no doubt of the identity of her murderer. After the deed is done, with Cassio out of the way, Othello will be regarded as a husband deranged by jealousy, and his word will not be taken against Iago's. Iago prepares the Venetian nobles for the event by hinting that Othello can be expected to do more than strike his wife: “'Faith that was not so well: yet would I knew / That stroke would proue the worst” (IV.i. 306-307). Characteristically, he makes no overt accusations but merely hints at Othello's madness: “You shall obserue him. / And his own courses will denote him so, / That I may saue my speech.”

Iago's last act of persuasion through casuistry is his enlistment of Roderigo to kill Cassio. Roderigo has his doubts—“And that you would haue me to do”—but Iago dangles the bait of Desdemona before his eyes and promises, “Come, stand not amaz'd at it, but go along with me: I will shew you such a necessitie in his death, that you shall thinke your selfe bound to put it on him” (IV.ii.273-275). We do not know what Iago's arguments are, but they are cogent enough to nerve a reluctant Roderigo:

I haue no great deuotion to the deed,
And yet he hath giuen me satisfying Reasons:
'Tis but a man gone. Forth my Sword: he dies.

. . . . .

Since both the doctrine and the language of Iago are Jesuitical, one might, by adopting the attitude of Shakespeare's Protestant contemporaries, find other hints pointing toward the Jesuitical Machiavel. It took little encouragement to set a patriotic Englishman off on the scent of a concealed Jesuit; like Iago, he might have shrugged off the question of truth by averring, “I know not if't be true, / But I, for mere suspition in that kinde, / Will do, as if for Surety.” No one, Thomas Bell warned, could be sure that he was not dealing with a Jesuit: “Note here gentle reader, what a cursed crewe of disloyall caterpillers these Iesuites be, they are not onely ranke traytors, as you haue hard at large; but so full of cozonage, and hypocriticall dealing, in their pestilent sect; that no man can tell, when he talketh, or conuerseth with a Iesuite, for they are both Friars and Nunnes, both men, and women, and liue in the world to set forward Iesuiticall plots and treasonable practises, as if they were lay-people.”33

Remembering that Loyola (whose Spanish name was Íñigo de Loyola) was, like Iago, a soldier, our hypothetical patriot would have seen no incongruity in the use of casuistry by a veteran of the wars. As George Whetstone pointed out, “I the lesse maruel that these Iesuits sow their seditions in such disguised, warlike, and ruffianly order, and intice men to violent murther, without difference of persons, when their first founder Ignatius Loyola was a spanish souldier, who decreeped with woundes, to keepe himselfe from begging in age, disguised himselfe with the habite of holinesse, and with counterfeit miracles began this holy order.”34

More important, since the Jesuitical Machiavel is usually associated with a plot to subvert secular authority, would our Jacobean zealot have seen any political implications in Iago's machinations against Othello? In 1604 the quarrel between Venice and the Pope, which was to lead to an interdict in 1606 and the expulsion of the Jesuits, was already brewing. In one of his letters from Venice in 1604, Sir Henry Wotton described the Venetian state as neutral in religion and not unfriendly to the Protestant cause.35 There is a tantalizing ambiguity in Iago's soliloquy (II.i.319-345) as he casts about for both a motive and a scheme to injure Othello and advance his own fortunes; he states that it is not out of “absolute lust” that he “loves” Desdemona, an ironic hyperbole since he goes on to evaluate the probability of furthering an affair between Desdmona and Cassio. But he does admit that he stands “accomptant for as great a sin,” which he does not name. Further, he is only “partely led to dyet my Reuenge”; but he does not clarify the nature of the other motives which spur him on. Iago's final silence rules out any possibility of an answer to this enigma, but Lodovico's order does indicate that his crime against his general is not to be passed off as a personal vendetta: “You shall close Prisoner rest, / Till that the Nature of your fault be knowne / To the Venetian State” (V.ii.408-410). To those who were sensitive to political overtones, it may well have appeared that Iago's clever casuistic maneuvering of his general into a crime of passion was an act of subversion as well as pure malevolence. This, in conjunction with the other hallmarks of the Jesuitical villain, might have led our credulous playgoer to view Iago's stubborn refusal to speak as mute evidence of the usual obdurate resistance of imprisoned Jesuits and their followers to the ingenious tortures devised by their persecutors.36

But while these political overtones may either have been sensed or read into the villainy of Iago by an audience alert to any shift of policy, they are only remote ripples of the maelstrom of evil that constitutes the core of Iago's character. Breaking through the superficial pattern of double-dealing which is typical of the “supersubtle” Venetian (or Italian) ruffian, Shakespeare probed beyond mere diabolical plotting to its metaphysical source. For him, Iago embodies that principle of evil which unites the Jesuit and the Machiavel: not simply the sacrifice of morality to expediency, but the arrogant claim of the insatiable ego to be free of all limitations except those imposed by its own will, a freedom beyond good and evil.

The aura of malignity which surrounds Iago—“No light, but rather darkness visible”—is not to be attributed to the means he employs nor even to their ends, but to the manner in which he relishes and savors the act of evil. His stated motives are flimsy rationalizations that have little to do with either fact or logic; they are flotsam tossed up from depths that even his subtle intellect cannot plumb. When Iago is most absolute in his assertion of the freedom of the self-determined will, he is, at the same time, most deceived. The entire play must be read as a protest against this doctrine of the autonomous will and a confutation of it. Iago is not the ranting Machiavellian blasphemer who both defies and denies his God; he is something far more sinister, the demi-devil who “plumes up” his will in the confident belief that he is free to determine his own salvation or damnation as he pleases. The center of his universe is his ego and its infinite lust for power recognizes no circumferential bounds; for him there is neither divine nor social order. All values are derived from the central isolated will: “I haue look'd upon the world for foure times seuen yeares, and since I could distinguish betwixt a Benefit, and an Iniurie: I neuer found man that knew how to loue himselfe” (I.iii. 342-345). Loyalty to a superior is meaningless: “In following him, I follow but my selfe” (I.i.64).

Chaucer's Pardoner is an excellent example of this type of villain. As Alfred L. Kellogg points out in his brilliant analysis, “An Augustinian Interpretation of Chaucer's Pardoner,” “The essential contrast of The Pardoner's Tale, is between living in accordance with `Goddes wille' and living `right at our owene wille,' the eternal antithesis of the pride of Satan and the humility of Christ.”37 Iago is an important link in the chain of the literary avatars of this “eternal antithesis”; as a figure of evil endowed with an enormous vitality breathed into him by his creator, he has shaped a tradition that sprang into renewed life in romanticism and persists in our own time.

Coleridge's famous formula for Iago, “the motive-hunting of a motiveless malignity,” has been sneered at by sophisticated critics as a typical romantic obfuscation. But Coleridge, like Schopenhauer, had rejected the easy solutions and comforting dogmas of the Enlightenment for a frank admission of the irrational nature of the evil will. This, as Robert Penn Warren has argued convincingly, is the theme of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: “The bolt whizzes from the crossbow and the bird falls and all comment that the Mariner has no proper dramatic motive or is the child of necessity or is innocent of everything except a little wantonness is completely irrelevant, for we are confronting the mystery of the corruption of the will, the mystery which is the beginning of the `moral history of Man'.”38

And this, as Coleridge surmised, is the mystery of Iago's motivation. When Iago utters his last defiant words, “Demand me nothing: what you know, you know: / From this time forth, I neuer will speake word” (V.ii.370-371), he is unwittingly paraphrasing the wise admonition of Augustine:

Let no one, therefore, look for an efficient cause of the evil will; for it is not efficient, but deficient, as the will itself is not an effecting of something, but a defect. For defection from that which supremely is, to that which has less of being—this is to begin to have an evil will. Now, to seek to discover the causes of these defections—causes, as I have said, not efficient, but deficient—is as if someone sought to see darkness, or hear silence. Yet both of these are known by us, and the former by means only of the eye, the latter only by the ear; but not by their positive actuality, but by their want of it. Let no one, then, seek to know from me what I know I do not know; unless he perhaps wishes to be ignorant of that of which all we know is, that it cannot be known.39


1. All citations are taken from the New Variorum Edition, ed. H. H. Furness (Philadelphia, 1886).

2. Shakespeare and the Allegory of Evil (New York, 1958), pp. 423-424.

3. Princeton, 1963, pp. 159-160.

4. Thoughts on Machiavelli (Glencoe, Ill., 1958), p. 246. See also Friedrich Meinecke, Machiavellism (New York, 1957), p. 36: “The individual agent cannot escape the nature he is born with. He acts in such and such a way because this nature requires it.” Gentillet's A discourse upon the meanes of wel governing against N. Machiavelle, trans. S. Patericke (London, 1602), p. 138, gives the following version of Ch. xxv of Il Principe: “So that if hee which governes himselfe moderately, encounter and meet with a time, wherein his vertue is requisit, he cannot faile but prosper; yet if the time change, he shall undoubtedly overthrowe himselfe, if hee likewise change not his manners and order of life.” Gentillet comments, “Now Machiavell would make men beleeve, that this is true, and that all the good and evill which come to men, happeneth, because they have Fortune accordant or discordant to their complexions.”

5. Shakespeare and the Allegory of Evil, pp. 423, 425, 437.

6. Mario Praz, “Machiavelli and the Elizabethans,” Proceedings of the British Academy, XIV (1928), 83.

7. Felix Raab, The English Face of Machiavelli (London, 1964), p. 59.

8. “The Epistle Dedicatorie,” n.p.

9. A Letter Written out of England (London, 1599), p. 10.

10. Thomas Bell, The Anatomie of Popish Tyrannie (London, 1603), p. 107.

11. “Unless, therefore, the will itself is set free by the grace of God from that misery by which it has been made a servant of sin, and unless it is given help to overcome its vices, mortal men cannot live upright and devout lives.” Retractions, I, 9. St. Augustine, The Problem of Free Choice, trans. Dom Mark Pontifex (Westminster, Md., and London, 1955), Appendix, p. 24.

12. Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Book I, p. vii.

13. Shakespeare's Use of Learning (San Marino, Calif., 1953), pp. 281-82.

14. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, trans. Louis J. Puhl, S. J. (Westminster, Md., 1954), p. 161.

15. For this article I have used the edition of Johannes Rabeneck, S. J. (Madrid, 1953).

16. For a brief description of the Molinist controversy, see “Molinism,” Catholic Encyclopaedia. An excellent account is given by James Brodrick, S. J., The Life and Work of Blessed Robert Francis Cardinal Bellarmine, S. J. (London, 1928), II, 1-69.

17. “Molina and Human Liberty,” Jesuit Thinkers of the Renaissance, ed. Gerard Smith, S.J. (Milwaukee, 1939), p. 110.

18. “Ceterum arbitror libertatem esse in voluntate et non in intellectu atque ad libertatem volendi aut nolendi vel continendi actum non volendo, quando velle possumus, et non nolendo, quando possumus nolle, non esse necessariam tantam deliberationem ex parte intellectus quantam multi necessariam esse existimant et multo minus imperium intellectus quo voluntati imperet ut velit aut nolit vel contineat actum; sed ad volendum satis esse notitiam bonitatis alicuius quae in obiecto eluceat rei delectabilis vel utilis aut honestae. Ea vero bonitas si tanta non sit et tam perspicue cognita quae voluntati necessitatem inferat, ut nulla est talis praeter Deum clare visum, integrum est voluntati non elicere actum, tametsi regulariter illum eliciet, si magna sit nihilque adsit quod ab eo eliciendo retrahat. Similiter existente notitia alicuius mali integrum eidem voluntati est nolle ac respuere obiectum; nec tamen necessitatur ad nolendum, sed potest non elicere nolitionem continendo actum, tametsi quando obiectum est vehemens, regulariter nolitionem eliciet, nisi adsit quod aliunde moveat ad illam non eliciendam aut etiam ad contristativum amplectendum propter bonum cum eo coniunctum. Itaque existente eadem dispositione ac notitia ex parte intellectus qualis explicata est potest voluntas sua innata libertate velle aut nolle vel neutrum elicere actum.” Concordia, Quaest. 14, art. 13, disp. 2, 9, pp. 15-16.

19. Although the first stirrings of Arminianism made their appearance in the decade preceding the staging of Othello, they were not identified as a Protestant reaction to Calvinism, but rather as a Catholic fifth column. William Perkins (1558-1602) warned, “Lastly, it were to be wished that some of our students euen of Divinity, had not a spice of this sinne of Core: for within this sixe or seuen yeares, divers haue addicted themselues to studie Popish writers and Monkish discourses, despising in the meane time the writings of those famous instruments and cleare lights, whom the Lord raised up for the raising and restoring of true religion; such as Luther, Calvin, Bucer, Beza, Martyr, &c, which argueth that their minds are alienated from the sinceritie of the truth.” Works (1609), III, 552. He may have been referring to William Barret, who was forced to make a public recantation of his unpopular views at Cambridge in 1595. William Prynne gives a complete account of the incident in his Anti-Arminianisme, 2nd ed. (1630), pp. 61-62. Prynne describes Barret's doctrines as “these then Pelagian, and Popish, but now both Popish, and Arminian tenets.”

20. PMLA, LXXIX (Sept. 1964), 390-400.

21. Thomas Dekker's The Whore of Babylon, registered in 1607 but possibly written and performed earlier, includes in its “Drammatis Personae” Palmio, “a Iesuite.”

22. The Iesuites Catechisme or Examination of their doctrine. Published in French this present year 1602, and nowe translated into English. N.p.

23. Works, I, between pp. 701-702.

24. The emendation “wise” for “wife” has been offered before (see the discussion in the Variorum Othello), but not with this specific meaning. As for the “divinity of hell,” Bell, Anatomie of Popish Tyrannie, p. 45, writes: “But in regard of brevitie, I referre the reader, that shall desire more of this kind of their hellish divinitie, to that worthie book which the French papistes haue put forth, (intituled the Iesuites catechisme,) a golden booke indeede.” See also Antoine Arnauld, Le franc discours. A Discourse, presented of late to the French king (London, 1602), p. 7: “Will you haue the truth, their proper element is Diuinitie, that's their Facultie, that's their field: therein are they expert.”

25. Bellarmine, II, 38. Also see Concordia, p. 645: “Quare potest unus cum aequali aut minori eiusdem gratiae praevenientis auxilio converti, quando alius cum aequali aut maiori eiusdem praevenientis gratiae auxilio non convertitur.”

26. The Sermons of John Donne, eds. G. R. Potter and E. M. Simpson (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1955), II, 375.

27. Diary of John Manningham, ed. John Bruce (Westminster, Eng., 1868), p. 88. For this reference I am indebted to my colleague, Dr. Elizabeth N. McCutcheon.

28. Works, II, 11-12. Also see Thomas Wood, English Casuistical Divinity During the Seventeenth Century (London, 1952), Ch. i.

29. A Full Satisfaction Concerning a Double Romish Iniquitie (London, 1606), p. 87. Although the reference is dated two years after the first performance of Othello, it indicates that there was a contemporary knowledge of the methods of Jesuit casuistry.

30. See Perkins' The Whole Treatise of the Cases of Conscience (Cambridge, Eng., 1609), “The Epistle Dedicatorie” by Thomas Pickering.

31. Phillip Stubbes's Anatomy of the Abuses in England (1583), ed. F. J. Furnivall (London, 1877-79), Part II, pp. 6-7.

32. Spivack also notes Iago's “sexual syllogism,” p. 426.

33. Anatomie of Popish Tyrannie, p. 78.

34. The Censure of a loyall Subiect (London, 1587), n.p.

35. See Logan Pearsall Smith, The Life and Letters of Sir Henry Wotton (Oxford, 1907), I, 77 ff., 318.

36. See John Gerard, S.J., The Autobiography of an Elizabethan, trans. Philip Caraman (London and New York, 1951), pp. 72-73.

37. Speculum, XXVI (1951), 473.

38. “A Poem of Pure Imagination: An Experiment in Reading,” in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (New York, 1946), p. 81.

39. The City of God, trans. Marcus Dods (New York, 1950), p. 387.
Source Citation: Stempel, Daniel. "The Silence of Iago." PMLA. 84.2 ( 1969, Mar. ): 252-263. Rpt. in Shakespearean Criticism. Ed. Dana Ramel Barnes. Vol. 35. Detroit: Gale Research, 1997. 252-263. Literature Resource Center. Gale. Pascack Hills High School. 29 Oct. 2008 .

Gale Document Number: GALE|H1420018861

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Iago the Psychopath
  • Iago As A Psychopath In Othello
  • Psychopaths
  • Psychopath
  • A Psychopath
  • Psychopath
  • psychopath
  • Role Of Psychopath In Othello
  • Iago
  • Iago