by Glen Downey, Comics in Education, www.comicsineducation.com
A question that sometimes arises among students when I teach Othello is whether or not Iago bears more than a passing similarity to Batman's arch-nemesis, the Clown Prince of Crime--the Joker. I don't know who first came up with the idea of connecting these characters, but when my students initially mentioned it to me I found myself of two minds about it.
When I'm of two minds about something I find it helps to sketch things out. So I turn to visual brainstorming to see if that helps resolve things:
Let's see what you think...
Well, I'm not sure that this exercise resolves the issue entirely. There are some similarities in the ways in which both characters delight in others' undoing. However, one thing that the exercise works out is that Iago may, in fact, be a kind of hybrid of Joker and Batman, preferring to operate from the shadows like the Dark Knight but dealing out death and destruction like the motiveless malignity that is at the heart of the Clown Prince.
Give your students as many opportunities as possible to work through complex comparisons like the one above. Allow them free range to access their thoughts in this very visual way and it won't take long to begin paying dividends.
Dr. Glen Downey is an award-winning children's author, educator, and academic from Oakville, Ontario. He works as a children's writer for Rubicon Publishing, a reviewer for PW Comics World, an editor for the Sequart Organization, and serves as the Chair of English and Drama at The York School in Toronto.
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