Sir Anthony Babington: A Possible Source for Iago in Shakespeare's Othello

It has been suggested by many scholars and critics that William Shakespeare (1564-1616) "borrowed" the plotlines in his plays from various sources, such as the tragic works of the ancient Greeks and Romans and from other European writers that lived during and before the so-called "English Renaissance" which can be defined as an historical/literary period marked by stories containing "a violent sequence of events (and) built upon the central themes of murder and revenge. . . motivated by greed" (Hagen Internet). As pointed out by James P. Draper, Shakespeare's "history plays. . . borrow heavily from contemporary English histories, and his comedies often incorporate aspects of English folklore" (3151).

Yet the characters in such plays as Hamlet, Macbeth and especially Othello, appear to be based on actual persons; in Hamlet, the character of the Prince of Denmark has been ascribed to the Historia Dancia, a Latin text by the twelfth-century historian Saxo Grammaticus, while Macbeth is derived from the history of Duncan, an ancient Scottish king. This also seems to hold true for Othello, for Michael Dobson maintains that Shakespeare "derived most of the plot. . . from a story in...

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