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Jealousy: An Intriguing Aspect of Shakespeare’s Othello

Paper type: Essay
Pages: 4 (758 words)
Categories: Othello And Iago, Othello Jealousy, Shakespeare
Downloads: 41
Views: 1

Jealousy takes many forms and sometimes it is harmless while at other times it can be destructive. In the play Othello written by William Shakespeare, Iago and Othello’s actions and dialogue clearly demonstrate that jealousy can cause individuals to marginalize others, as illustrated by racial and sexist prejudices depicted in the text.

With Roderigo’s help, Iago is able to plot a series of events which eventually leads to convincing Othello that Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio, and this is not only causing conflict between husband and wife, but leads to Othello’s desire to kill Cassio.

Thus, Shakespeare suggests that when people are conflicted with jealousy, they may hurt others and even cause their own destruction. At the beginning of the play, Iago feels jealous towards Othello and Roderigo that,

I hate the Moor,
And it is thought abroad that ’twixt my sheets
He has done my office. I know not if ’t be true,
But I, for mere suspicion in that kind,
Will do as if for surety.

(1.3.410-414)

Iago first states that he hates Othello for passing him over for a promotion but he hears rumors that his wife Emilia might have a fling with Othello. Even though Iago is not sure if the rumors are true, he still decides to try and disrupt Othello’s life. This reveals the buildup of jealousy and hate within him, and even without any clear reason to disrupt Othello’s life, he feels the need to do create evil rumours about him in order to ruin his reputation. Moreover, Iago manipulates Roderigo in order to cause confusion and jealousy in Othello’s mind. Iago tells Roderigo that “Thou art sure of me. Go, make money. I have told thee often, and I re-tell thee again and again, I hate the Moor. My cause is hearted. Thine hath no less reason. Let us be conjunctive in our revenge against him.” (1.3.389-392) Roderigo is jealous of Othello marrying Desdemona, the woman he loves and is now blinded by love so believes whatever Iago tells him. Indeed, Iago sees the opportunity and decides to take advantage and use Roderigo to plot a series of events that will lead Othello into Iago’s trap.

Shakespeare shows that due to Iago’s evil and jealous nature, he does not want happiness for anyone and therefore uses people as tools or toys for his own purpose. Finally, Iago uses Cassio and Desdemona to make Othello think and suspect Desdemona is cheating on him. Iago thinks to himself, “If I can fasten but one cup upon him, with that which he hath drunk tonight already, he’ll be as full of quarrel and offense as my young mistress\’ dog.” (2.3.46-49) Iago gets Cassio drunk so he will get in a fight because he wants Cassio to be in trouble with Othello, while that is happening he knows Desdemona will intervene and try to help Cassio. Iago’s actions show that he is so jealous of Cassio’s position that he is willing to do anything to make Cassio look suspicious. Iago’s capability to portray Cassio as unreliable and untrustworthy reveals the extremes people can go to because of jealousy. Iago is willing to exploit everyone just to get even with Othello proving that jealousy can actually lead humans to abandon their logic. As Iago’s plans to get Cassio killed continue, he successfully creates the seeds of jealousy in Othello too.

Ironically, he even says to Othello that “O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; it is the green-eyed monster which doth mock meat it feeds on.” (?) Iago pretends to be on the side of Othello and warns him not to be too jealous because it will lead to self-destruction. As a result, Jealousy is the major theme in the play. The imaginary surrounding jealousy makes it a monster which controls the characters. Othello represents how jealousy is one of the most corrupting and destructive emotions. “Othello jealousy overpowers him, as he trembles, at the idea of Desdemona and Cassio together. His statement about nature means that he believes he would not feel such powerful emotion and his mind would not be filled with images of them together, if it weren’t really happening. Othello takes the intensity of his own emotional jealousy to the thought of Desdemona being unfaithful. It is also jealousy that prompts Iago to plot Othello’s downfall, and jealousy is also the tool that Iago uses to arouse Othello’s passions. Roderigo and Bianca demonstrate jealousy at various times in the play, and Emilia demonstrates that she too knows the emotion well.

Cite this essay

Jealousy: An Intriguing Aspect of Shakespeare’s Othello. (2020, Sep 08). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/jealousy-an-intriguing-aspect-of-shakespeares-othello-essay

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