Jealousy Shakespeare is prominent in his use of recurring themes throughout his works, particularly those of love, death, and betrayal. All these themes are present in Othello. Most paramount, however, is jealousy. Jealousy runs the characters’ lives in Othello from the beginning of the play, when Roderigo is envious of Othello because he wishes to be with Desdemona, and to the end of the play, when Othello is furious with envy because he believes Cassio and Desdemona have been engaging in an affair. Some characters’ jealousy is fashioned by other characters. Iago is involved in much of this, creating lies and implementing misleading situations.
He is consumed with jealousy of Cassio and masked with hatred of Othello because he was not chosen as lieutenant, Cassio was. Iago is selfish in that he wants everyone to feel as he does so he engineers the jealousy of other characters. Iago is a man blinded by envy and anger, with a goal in mind for everyone to become equally jealous, which aim he completes through his betrayal and manipulation of characters, specifically Othello. Iago knows precisely how to undermine Othello’s fragile experience of love when he introduces the idea of the “green eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds upon”- in act 3, scene 3. Jealousy in Othello twists its way throughout the story, interfering with all the relationships. Iago, the jealous villain, succeeds in infecting Othello, someone who is not easily jealous. This is shown when Iago tells Othello of false beliefs of Desdemona sleeping with Cassio. “Look to your wife, observe her well with Cassio” said in act 2 scene 4. An important concern of the play is with the way love, jealousy and hatred can sometimes be so closely related, that an individual’s feelings can move from one to the other, whether their relationships are those of husband and wife or lady in waiting and mistress.
Notice that it is the relationship which represents the most elevated form of love which is made to fall, whereas we might feel that the others would have easily survived allegations of infidelity, given that one partner in each is already half convinced of it. Othello’s jealousy against Desdemona is perhaps the strongest emotion incurred in the play. The jealousy he experiences turns him insane with rage, and he loses all ability to see reason. The first instance that instills doubt in Othello’s mind is Brabantio’s warning “Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see: She has deceived her father, and may thee” was spoken in act one scene 2. This early seed of doubt allows Iago to play on Othello’s jealous nature, and concoct a plan to take advantage of Othello. Iago slowly leaks his poison into Othello and soon has the result he desires, Othello is overcome with jealousy. Othello continuously denies his jealousy, but it is apparent that he is losing his mind with the thought of Desdemona’s unfaithfulness. He speaks to Iago saying “No Iago; I’ll see before I doubt; when I doubt, prove; And on the proof, there is no more but this, Away at once with love or jealousy! ” in act 3 scene 1. The fact that he believes that his wife is unfaithful with only insinuations put forth by Iago shows the fact that he is prone to jealousy. Soon after, with Iago’s “help” he believes to see undeniable proof that Desdemona is unfaithful with the loss of the handkerchief. Othello experiences jealousy so strong that he delves into a fit of epilepsy. This epilepsy fit is proof that Othello is now consumed with jealousy and from henceforth on cannot be convinced Desdemona is faithful. Othelllo’s jealousy soon turns to anger as he struggles to cope.
He accuses her of infidelity and though she adamantly denies it, he is not convinced. Othello believes he has no other way to resolve his doubt than to murder Desdemona. After Desdemona’s death, the truth is uncovered, and Othello chooses to commit suicide. He speaks in his death speech that he wants to be remembered as one who was not easily jealous, but one who was perplexed and misled. The play Othello demonstrates the power jealousy can hold over people. At one point or another, every person experiences jealousy, and whether it is sexual or otherwise, jealousy can be a very dangerous emotion. Because jealousy plays on the trust one develops in relationships, it easily can result in feeling violated and betrayed. The feeling of betrayal by someone who we trust is one of the most hurtful emotions humans can feel. The way we react to these feelings though, some may experience uncontrollable anger, while others become depressed, still others may internalize the feeling and not deal with it at all. The play Othello, though written hundreds of years ago, still captivates audiences with it’s portrayal of the desperation one feels when jealousy is present. Although many years have passed since written, people can still relate to Othello because human nature does not change. We all question those who are close to us, and whether or not they are loyal. Othello demonstrates the disastrous consequences that may ensue when a person capitalizes on the jealous nature of another human. Iago is probably the most famous villain in all of Shakespeare’s work. What makes him such is his behind the scenes work where he instigates much of the trouble that happens and then he acts innocent and blameless so that no one suspects him. Iago makes this all possible with manipulation which he uses to betray everyone. He conveys lies that send people over the edge with fatal consequences, but he’s the one who is sympathetic and always there for someone to confide in. There really is no indication of why Iago acts in such a way which causes him to be even more frightening. He is masked with jealousy to which he wants everyone else to feel.
In doing so, Iago causes the deaths of many and the downfall of himself. This tragedy ultimately brings out credibility of one proof, that being that jealousy is one of the strongest human emotions and just as hate, it can consume you to.
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