Theater: Passion's Fool

For actor after actor, the part of Othello proves more a trap than a triumph. Seemingly a model of uncomplicated clarity, the role is replete with opaque ambiguities and calcified misconceptions. Apart from strangling Desdemona and killing himself, Othello initiates less action than any other Shakespearean tragic hero. Indeed, he often seems like lago's stringed puppet. His credulity makes him appear less than normally intelligent, and the rapidity with which jealousy races through his veins suggests that he is as much passion's fool as passion's slave. At the end of Hamlet, Macbeth and...

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