Individuation and Language: Hamlet and Iago Book Review by Fenshae

Individuation and Language: Hamlet and Iago
An analysis of the individuation of the characters of Hamlet and Iago in William Shakespeare's "Hamlet" and "Othello".
# 112827 | 1,317 words | 0 sources | 2009 | US
Published on Mar 09, 2009 in Drama and Theater (English) , English (Analysis) , Shakespeare (Hamlet) , Shakespeare (Othello)

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A pervasive theme throughout Shakespeare's tragedies is the notion of an individual, a person with a private identity and voice separate from their exterior appearances, roles, and other people's expectations. This paper looks at how "Hamlet" and "Othello" both deal with the issue of humanity and identity in relation to nature and outsider's perspectives when held in comparison with the character's internal life; characters struggle to individuate themselves apart from the role they are expected to play, and in each tragedy the characters are faced with difficulty in this individuation. The paper examines how Iago and Hamlet are two characters who use language to individuate themselves; Hamlet uses this in the form of soliloquy to explore himself, whereas Iago uses it to manipulate others to further his own agenda, but both are concerned with the issue of public and private identities.

From the Paper:

"Hamlet is characterized as a man of thought, a hero who works through his problems logically rather than rushing headfirst into action; this is simultaneously a blessing and a curse to his character. His thought becomes obsessive and bleeds into complete inaction, coming to a total standstill of soliloquy where he talks himself into a course of action only to talk himself back out of it. In contrast, Iago is presented as a thinking villain--one who has put immense effort into his schemes and has mostly successfully manipulated every character he comes into contact with into playing a role in his master plan. Though a soldier and, in theory, a man of action, Iago acts rather passively, preferring to do his dirty work through people like Roderigo and limiting his action to linguistic manipulation."

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