Sunday, May 23, 2010

Othello's Self-Hatred?

Just saw a thought go by on Twitter where somebody referred to Iago's jealousy (fine), and Othello's "self hatred".

Really?  Guess I never thought about it.  Othello hates himself?  Why and where's the evidence?  It may be obvious and I'm just not putting enough thought into it.


Ed said...

As Iago's poison seeps into Othello's mind, Othello makes several references to his age, skin color and "otherness' that, if they do not qualify as self-hatred, certainly indicate that beneath his confident exterior beats the heart of an insecure outsider. In fact, these are the first thoughts that jump into his mind after he has bought what Iago's selling: "Haply, for I am black,/ And have not those soft parts of conversation/ That chamberers have, or for I am declin'd/ Into the vale of years... (3.3.263-267)."

By the end of the play, when he realizes what he's done and how foolish he's been, he does beg for the punishment he deserves in an outburst of disgust with himself.

Again, I don't know if I'd call it self-hatred to begin with, but I think you could make the case that once he has slain Desdemona, he's repulsed by himself: he refers to himself as the "Turbaned Turk who traduced the state" and as a "circumcised dog."

For all his outward bravado and cool, Othello remains "an extravagant and wheeling stranger" in a strange land throughout the play

Haley said...

Echoing Ed!

Brian said...

I think that self-hatred is a flaw of other of Shakespeare’s tragic characters--or at least an extreme lack of self-worth. We see this in Hamlet. He sees his only wortt in being his father son. Lear so hates himself that he must buy his daughters love to prove to himself that he is loved. Lady Macbeth after killing the king begins to hate herself to the point of suicide and Macbeth tries to kill all those that he sees as seeing his own self-hatred--for his role in the murder. Timon-again must buy his friendship because he does not believe that he is worth true friendship. These Character’s (like Othello) self-hatred is what causes the tragic events.