Othello: Conspiracy Theory
Enemy = Iago (foil)
However, in this reading,
Desdemona is the enemy, and has to be destroyed
- She is beautiful, innocent, hapless
- (almost too innocent – see conversation with Emilia about adultery)
- Elopes with Othello against her father’s wishes
- ‘pure’, blind to Othello’s differences (old, black) and is indifferent to his ‘outsider’ character
- Othello is ‘other-ed‘ by Venetian society
- He will never be one of them, and eloping with a Venetian reinforces that
- Not only is he an ‘outsider’, but he is the general too.
- Venetians appointed foreigners as generals because they didn’t want to give too much power to one of their own
- Thus, Desdemona, by ignoring Othello’s differences and ignoring society’s views, she is a threat to the structure of society
- She also disobeys her father!
- If the Venetians allow Desdemona to treat their society with contempt, where will it end?
- What if she had children? The entire social structure of Venice would collapse
- She is a danger to society and subverts the norms
- Thus, Iago becomes an agent of the Venetian hegemony instead of a criminal
- He destroys the enemy
- He believes he’s acting alone, but he actually acts out the fears, desires and inhibitions of Venice
- He does what the Venetians want to do, since Desdemona threatens the established order, but don’t dare to do since she is one of them
- Other evidence: the murders at the end were hushed up because the Venetians wanted it to happen, but didn’t want anyone to know
“Your daughter, if you hath not given her leave
I say again, hath made a gross revolt” – Roderigo, (1.1)
“O treason of the blood!
Fathers, from hence trust not your daughters’ minds” – Brabantio (1,.1)
“For if such actions may have passage free,
Bond slaves and pagans shall our statesmen be.” – Brabantio (1.2)
“If virtue no delighted beauty lack,
Your son-in-law is far more fair than black. – Duke, (1.3)