A lot of Shakespeare plays share the common theme of jealousy, two in particular being Othello and Merry Wives of Windsor. Jealousy is a strong and unpredictable emotion that causes people to do things they never knew they knew capable of doing. Jealousy is also known as a destructive behavior. This is due to the fact that it can destroy a person’s life as well as a person’s mental state. When someone is jealous their decision-making skills are jeopardized and are unable to think straight. A jealous person doesn’t trust people around them and are very suspicious which leads to rivalry. The main problem of this emotion is there are always consciousness, but who pays for them? Othello and Merry Wives of Windsor are perfect example of why women seem to always to be the victims in situations where jealousy is the dominant emotion controlling the action.
Othello, a middle-aged officer in the Venetian military, is married to Desdemona, a young, fragile, virtuous Venetian women. Othello is a good man but allows his jealousy and pride control his emotions and actions. Iago, who is Othello’s ensign, is the first sign of jealousy that leads up to the victimization of Desdemona. Othello decided to appoint Cassio as lieutenant, even though he is inexperienced, and Iago isn’t happy. Because of Iago’s jealousy he is able to manipulate and deceive people through many immoral acts. Iago knows that Roderigo wants to be with Desdemona and uses that to his advantage. Iago tells Roderigo that if he helps him with his plan that in the end he will receive the love of Desdemona. Even though Desdemona has nothing to do with Iago’s jealousy or hatred she is a vital part of the plan. Iago’s plan was to go to Brabanzio, Desdemona’s father, and tell him that Othello stole Desdemona and is forcing her into marriage. Iago sneakily leaves Roderigo alone before Brabanzio sees him and returns to Othello’s side. Iago is always looking out for himself and does whatever it takes to get what he wants, which is all being led by his jealous nature. All because Othello didn’t appoint him as lieutenant, Iago wants is jealous and takes it out on Othello’s personal life. Iago hates Othello and jealousy leads to revenge. Iago’s plan doesn’t work. When Desdemona’s father accuses Othello of stealing his daughter and tricking her into marriage the dike sides with Othello and gives Othello and Desdemona a chance to speak their mind. In the end Othello and Desdemona convince the Duke that there love is true. When Othello is told he has to go to Cyprus to help fight against the Turks Desdemona demands that she goes with him. Iago believes he has lost a battle but will win the war. His jealousy doesn’t die down or allow him to stop just because plan a failed.
Iago’s next plan comes to him while they are in Cyprus. Cassio, Othello’s newly appointed lieutenant, takes the hand of Desdemona as she arrives to the island. When Iago sees this, he comes up with the perfect plan that gets back at Othello and Cassio, the only problem is that once again it involves Desdemona. Desdemona has nothing to do with Iago’s jealousy but since she means so much to Othello, she has to be an innocent pawn in Iago’s scheme. Roderigo expressed his doubt about being able to break up the marriage of Othello and Desdemona to Iago. Iago assures him that Desdemona will get bored of Othello and look for someone new but that it will most likely be with Cassio and not him. Iago does this to spark something inside of Rodrigo and make him jealous of Cassio. Ironically Iago knows the power of jealousy and that Rodrigo will try and take out his emotions on Cassio. This allows Iago to focus on letting out his jealousy and pride out on Othello while Rodrigo takes care of Cassio. Iago shares that taking care of Cassio is the first step of his plan in destroying Othello. Roderigo goes off to start a fight with Cassio after Iago gets him drunk. Cassio ends up stabbing Governor Montano while Roderigo runs off to set off the alarm in town. When Othello asks who started the fight Iago steps up and puts complete blame on Cassio. Iago’s jealousy lead to cruel acts, manipulation and constant lies. Othello has no other choice then to take about Cassio’s position of lieutenant. Ironically Cassio goes to Iago and expresses how sad he is and how he has ruined his reputation. Iago sees this as a perfect gateway to step two of his plan. He tells Cassio that he can use Desdemona to get back on Othello’s good side, but then tells us that he is going to make it seem like Cassio and Desdemona are having an affair to make Othello jealous. When Cassio talks with Desdemona she is very understanding and wants to help him gain the trust and forgiveness back from Othello. Othello and Iago walk in as Cassio goes to leave. Nervous and unsure of how to address the situation Cassio walks out without saying a word to anyone. In this moment is when Othello becomes questionable. Iago then tried to confirm the affair for Othello by putting thoughts in his head. Unfortunately, while trying to keep her promise to Cassio, Desdemona tries to convince Othello to give Cassio his position back as lieutenant, which only makes Othello believe Iago even more. Iago takes it another step further and brings his wife Emilia into it. He asks her if she could steal Desdemona’s handkerchief. Iago then puts the handkerchief in Cassio’s room and tells Othello that he has seen Cassio use the handkerchief in person to further frame him for having an affair with Othello’s wife. This would be the perfect evidence to put Othello over the edge due to the fact it was the first handkerchief Othello ever gave Desdemona.
In this moment jealousy is what is driving Othello and Iago’s actions. Othello wants revenge and Iago vows to help. When Othello asks Desdemona for the handkerchief she doesn’t know where it is and then goes on to talk about reinstating Cassio as lieutenant. She doesn’t know this at the time, but that was the worst possible thing to do in that moment. Iago’s jealousy grows more and more and as it grows Desdemona is made into something she isn’t. Iago is able to trick Othello into thinking his conversation with Cassio about his night with Bianca was about Desdemona which confirms the affair for Othello. In this moment Othello’s pride, morals and good heart left his body and all that remained was his jealousy. Othello ends up getting so out of control that he hits Desdemona and calls her a whore Desdemona is confused and tells him she hasn’t done anything wrong. Iago tells Othello that he is going to kill Cassio, but has Roderigo do the dirty work for him. He explains the only way to end up with Desdemona is with Cassio dead. After Othello hears Cassio yell out he assumes that he is dead. Othello then goes on to smother Desdemona to death. It is very clear that jealousy is what motivates the action in Othello and that jealousy can make people do things they never thought they could do. Desdemona, a pure, and innocent bystander was forced to pay the price for Iago and Othello’s jealousy. She fell as a victim to this powerful emotion.
In The Merry Wives of Windsor mistress Margret Page and Mistress Alice Ford are nothing like Desdemona but are victims of jealousy just like Desdemona. The common theme of The Merry Wives of Windsor is male sexual jealousy. Sir John Falstaff desires money of two wealthy merchants, Master Frank Ford and Master George Page. He can see that their wives Mistress Ford and Mistress Page, have control over their money and decides to seduce them. With this in mind, he sends them both identical letters, but this plan back fires. Being such good friends, the women know that they both received the same letter and attempt to teach Falstaff a lesson. The plan started with inviting Falstaff to Ford’s house to initiate the idea of leading him on. When Master Ford walked in Falstaff got nervous and climbed into dirty laundry that was brought outside and poured out into the river. They continue to humiliate Falstaff and trick him into publically embarrassing himself over and over again. Master Ford becomes jealous and thinks that Falstaff will be able to seduce his wife. He starts to go crazy thinking that his wife is cheating on him. He spends his time trying to catch her in the act. Master Ford dressed up in a disguise, going by the name Brooke in order to spy on Falstaff and his wife. In general Master Ford thinks that women are untrustworthy and are unable to stay faithful.
Falstaff returns to Mistress Fords house but this time when he is told that Master Ford is coming he dresses up as the servant’s aunt in order to leave in disguise. When Master Ford sees him in disguise he beats him and chases him away due to the fact that he hates the servant’s fat aunt. Mistress Ford thinks she has made her husband pay for his jealousy and decides to tell her husband all about their plans. Ford feels bad for being so jealous and accusing his wife of being unfaithful and promises to never do it again. It shouldn’t have had to come to this. Mistress Ford had to go as far as a fake affair to make her husband realize that he has gone too far when it comes to his jealous and untrusting nature. This is unfair to Mistress Ford when she has been nothing but faithful and patient with her husband. They trick Falstaff into dressing up as Herne the Hunter to meet Mistress Ford in the woods. The wives have fun messing with Falstaff and constantly find themselves laughing at the tricks they plan on him. In the end Falstaff figures out that he has been tricked and Evan explains that he should stop going after lust and tries to explain to Ford that he should trust Mistress Ford.
Jealousy is the emotion that men feel when they are afraid of losing the women that they love. Women, often victims of this emotion, are accused and effected so much through this emotion due to the fact that men lose who they are once it takes over. They transform into a completely different person causing them to behave and act in ways that they never have before. Men are unable to help themselves fall into the trap of jealousy and can’t control their irrationality. Jealousy can make people lash out and doesn’t always transfer to the person making them jealous, typically it is the women who is usually an innocent bystander. Unfortunately, the two women we see this happen to is Desdemona and Mistress Ford from Othello and The Merry Wives of Windsor. These women have done nothing wrong but somehow end up being the victims of the most destructive emotion imaginable, jealousy.
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