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Bradley, A. C. Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth.
2nd ed. London: Macmillan, 1905.
PAGE 208

who knew loyalty to comrades and pity for victims; who

             felt how awful goodness is, and saw
Virtue in her shape how lovely; saw, and pined.
His loss;
who could still weep -- how much further distant is he than Iago from spiritual death, even when, in procuring the fall of Man, he completes his own fall! It is only in Goethe's Mephistopheles that a fit companion for Iago can be found. Here there is something of the same deadly coldness, the same gaiety in destruction. But then Mephistopheles, like so many scores of literary villains, has Iago for his father. And Mephistopheles, besides, is not, in the strict sense, a character. He is half person, half symbol. A metaphysical idea speaks through him. He is earthy, but could never live upon the earth.

     Of Shakespeare's characters Falstaff, Hamlet, Iago, and Cleopatra (I name them in the order of their births) are probably the most wonderful. Of these, again, Hamlet and Iago, whose births come nearest together, are perhaps the most subtle. And if Iago had been a person as attractive as Hamlet, as many thousands of pages might have been written about him, containing as much criticism good and bad. As it is, the majority of interpretations of his character are inadequate not only to Shakespeare's conception, but, I believe, to the impressions of most readers of taste who are unbewildered by analysis. These false interpretations, if we set aside the usual lunacies,1 fall into two groups. The first contains views which reduce Shakespeare to common-place. In different ways and degrees they convert his

   1It has been held, for example, that Othello treated Iago abominably in preferring Cassio to him; that he did seduce Emilia; that he and Desdemona were too familiar before marriage; and that in any case his fate was a moral judgment on his sins, and Iago a righteous, if sharp, instrument of Providence.

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