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Schmukler, A.G. (1990). American Imago. XLIV, 1987: Othello: Jealousy as Mimetic Contagion. Rob Wilson. Pp. 213-233.. Psychoanal Q., 59:170-170.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: American Imago. XLIV, 1987: Othello: Jealousy as Mimetic Contagion. Rob Wilson. Pp. 213-233.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 59:170-170

American Imago. XLIV, 1987: Othello: Jealousy as Mimetic Contagion. Rob Wilson. Pp. 213-233.

Anita G. Schmukler

The social/sexual jealousy which Iago stirs in his male rivals is examined in relation to mimetic desire, a model proposed by René Girard. Iago serves as a motivating force for "five triangles of male rivalry within the play." Othello perceives Cassio as a rival for Desdemona, Roderigo views Othello similarly, Brabantio is struck with a sense of betrayal by Desdemona, Iago proposes the fiction that Othello is linked with Emilia, and Iago broods over Cassio's promotion of Othello. With preoedipal unbounded reckless rage directed at his rivals, Iago "imagines from the outset that he can destroy both the love object (Desdemona) … and the power object (General Othello)." The externalization of this wish engenders multiple sets of triadic relations, in various states of rupture and destruction. Threatened with loss of power and position, Iago wishes not simply to triumph over rivals but to destroy them, and, by contagion, their closest relations. Wilson directly explores Iago's "overdetermined envy" in a variety of contexts. Imitative elements are inextricably woven into the text. Othello becomes a scapegoated victim, and Desdemona repeats that pattern. Wilson takes the position that the mimetic nature of romantic desire heightens its destructive potential. Iago gains strength from an irregularly textured ego by engaging men to enact his brutal wishes. The enemy becomes the woman, whose infidelity is perceived, by projection, as universal.

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Article Citation

Schmukler, A.G. (1990). American Imago. XLIV, 1987. Psychoanal. Q., 59:170-170

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