"Othello can be viewed as a kind of morality play in which the hero is a prize for which a devil named Iago and an angel named Desdemona compete." How can I assess the validity of this statement?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This is not a perfect way of interpreting the play, as I will discuss, but it arrives at a way of understanding the play that is not wrong, because it highlights the Iago-Desdemona-Othello triangle and the tensions pulling Othello apart.

Admittedly, if we interpret the angel/devil motif as something we might see in a cartoon—in which a devil named Iago whispers into one of Othello's ears, and an angel named Desdemona into the other—this is not exactly what happens in Othello.

Iago is the devil who maliciously decides to turn Othello against his wife by convincing him she is having an affair with Cassio. He whispers insinuations to Othello, manipulates events to look like what they are not, and plays on Othello's weaknesses.

Desdemona is an angel who shows her husband love, loyalty, and devotion. That is her way of whispering into his ear: she is true to him, if he could only see it. Because she is such an angel, however, she can't imagine her husband being deceived into turning against...

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