Othellos Jealousy Essays

Othello Essay on Jealousy

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Othello How is Othello and the theme of jealousy present in Act 3 Scene 2 and Act 3 Scene 3?! Othello is a much respected Shakespearean play for a host of reasons not least because by setting it in a different country he was able to tackle stereotypes which may have offended English audiences of his day. His portrayal of Othello sensationalised black people, making them just as capable as whites of a wide range of characteristics, emotions, flaws and frailties. This was alien to audiences of the time who believed that black people were one dimensional, either good or bad.

However, jealousy is arguably the most powerful theme being interweaved throughout the play and crucial in understanding the demise of the noble and respected Othello as well as his relationship with Desdemona and Iago. Jealousy is a state of fear, suspicion, revenge or envy called by a real or imagined threat or challenge; displaying that Othello becomes this character from Iago the manipulative Machiavellian. As Jealousy is apparent in Othello, the tragedy focuses on the doom of Othello and other major characters as a result of jealousy.

Jealousy is portrayed through the major characters of Iago and Othello. It utterly corrupts their lives because it causes Iago to show his true self, which in turn triggers Othello to undergo an absolute conversion that destroys the lives of their friends. It is jealousy that prompts Iago to plot Othello’s downfall; jealousy, too, is 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. Only Desdemona and Cassio, the true innocents of the story, seem beyond its clutches.

Shakespeare used the theme in other plays, but nowhere else is it portrayed as quite the “green- eyed” monster it is in this play. Since it is an emotion that everyone shares, we watch its destructive influence on the characters with sympathy and horror. Iago uses three main emotion weapons to destroy and manipulate his enemies they are, reputation, desire and jealously. A good reputation is the most important virtue to the characters of this play, therefore why jealousy stands out. He does everything in his power to destroy others reputation by creating illusions and lies, whilst sharing them with those whom would listen.

Iago was trusted by all, that people would continuously ask him for advice; he used this for his own beneficial advantage to manipulate their opinions and thoughts towards others. He first tries to manipulate Rodrigo saying that he will help him get Desdemona to fall desperately in love with him, but instead just takes his money and tells him many lies. The whole reason behind Iago’s devilish schemes, is his jealousy and rage he feels towards Cassio being Othello’s lieutenant (right hand man), and him wanting the role that he plays.

Unfortunately, Iago subtly and subversively stirs Othello’s subconscious, therefore leading to later suspicions. “Iago: O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock, the meat it feeds on; (Act 3. Scene 3). Here, he pretends to warn Othello not to be a jealous man, pointing out that jealousy ends up destroying the heart of the man who falls prey to it. But Othello then denies any feelings of jealousy; “And on the proof, there is no more but this, Away at once with love or jealousy! (Act 3 scene 3. 31)”. Here, Othello claims that he won’t be destroyed by jealousy.

He reasons that Desdemona “had eyes, and chose him” despite, presumably, the fact that he is black. But, then, Othello lets slip that he may in fact be a bit more jealous and suspicious of his wife than he lets on he says he wants some “proof” of Desdemona’s infidelity. As Iago has accused Desdemona of having an affair/sexual relationship with Cassio it was thought of a deceitful for a woman to have any sexual contact with a man before they were married. “What not a whore” Othello says this to Desdemona as she pleads her innocence to him, she is meant to be a virgin until her marriage with Othello was granted.

As the accusation continues this creates the chaste she disobeyed he father in the first act and in the Jacobean era the chaste also meant you were not allowed to disobey the men of the family. This connotes she is defiant and there could be a possibility that she is a whore due to her not being this stereotypical woman. This would obviously make Othello question his wife, and even question his own mind to whether or not Desdemona has had any sexual relationship with Cassio. Iago takes this to his advantage Othello’s jealousy literally drives him mad and anger and hate replaces his wisdom and judgment.

As he has fearful conversations about Desdemona with Iago he begins to diminish and starts to insult his wife by calling her a “Excellent Wretch” he’s using an oxymoron where he is calling her both good and evil, so two different contrasts. The handkerchief being the reason why Othello believes that she has deceived him was the plan that Iago had intended to do. Being a Machiavellian his intentions are wrong in order to save himself, to make his like benefit whilst the others suffer. Iago realizes that real proof of Desdemona’s supposed infidelity is not necessary because mere suspicion is enough to feed Othello’s jealousy.

In the case of Othello, Iago used the handkerchief Othello gave Desdemona in order to convince Othello that Desdemona’s been cheating. But when Desdemona dropped her handkerchief Emilia picked it up and gave it to Iago and therefore dropped it to let Cassio find it for himself. This shows Iago’s jealousy towards Cassio as once Othello sees it in another man’s possession, he’ll think he has solid proof that Desdemona is unfaithful and take away Cassio’s role of lieutenant and appoint Iago as his right hand man.

When Iago says the handkerchief will be “as proofs of holy writ” to Othello, he means that Othello will see the handkerchief as the holy truth that Desdemona’s a cheater. Iago deployed Othello to a point in which Othello’s language diminishes from blank verse; a very posh way of speaking to prose in which is the way poor people speak. “Honest, Ay Honest” Othello has lowered himself down as Iago has turned him into a jealous rage. Unfortunately this then leads to the point in the play where Othello has gathered a plan to murder his wife.

He maybe a jealous rage at that point in time, but because he is in love he says he will not damage her purity and will suffocate her instead of shedding her blood. As Othello bewilders thoughts even more after killing his wife he realizes the truth and is furious that he ends up taking his own life. This denotes that jealousy is a killer. Jealousy is like a pack of dominoes, as one falls the others follow, and it spreads until the trauma comes to and end where there is nobody left to hit.

The dramatic irony is that the most jealous indignation is expressed over offenses that did not happen: Othello jealous about his wife; Bianca jealous about Cassio; Iago formerly jealous about Emilia. Each character attempts to cope as an individual, but they all are eventually poisoned by jealousy and they suffered the consequences. Aristotle comments on a tragic hero, a tragic hero who is not eminently good or just, yet whose misfortune is bought about not by vice or depravity, but by some error or frailty. He says “This change of fortune should not be from bad”.

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The hero’s form/flaw is what will bring him success but death by the end of it. I believe that this links with Othello as I believe that Othello is a tragic hero. He comes across as the hero at the beginning of the play, but what does he really doing throughout that makes him a hero? He lowers his self-esteem, he degrades himself and has no success in what he did to Desdemona as it was all lies, and then kills himself. Hero’s die for a reason for helping other people, all Othello did was hurt the people closest to him and leave them down whilst making them pic up all the pieces. That is why he is a tragic hero as he did no good in the play.

Author: Brandon Johnson

in Othello

Othello Essay on Jealousy

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Throughout Shakespeare’s Othello, jealousy is apparent. The tragedy Othello focuses on the doom of Othello and the other major characters as a result of jealousy. In Shakespeare’s Othello, jealousy is mainly portrayed through the two major characters:  Iago and Othello. It utterly corrupts their lives because it causes Iago to show his true self, which in turn triggers Othello to undergo an absolute conversion that destroys the lives of their friends.

Othello represents how jealousy, particularly sexual jealousy, is one of the most corrupting and destructive of emotions. It is jealousy that prompts Iago to plot Othello's downfall; jealousy, too, is 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. Only Desdemona and Cassio, the true innocents of the story, seem beyond its clutches. Shakespeare used the theme in other plays, but nowhere else is it portrayed as quite the "green- eyed" monster it is in this play. Since it is an emotion that everyone shares, we watch its destructive influence on the characters with sympathy and horror.


How jealousy works in Othello

Shakespeare’s Othello is very close to the Aristotle’s conception of tragedy,specially in respect ofthe portrayal of the protagonist Othello. Like a classical tragic Othello in the tragedy Othello falls from his position due to his his ’tragic flaw’ jealousy.Jealousy is the main tragic flaw that brings about Othello’s misfortune,suffering, and death.Though this flaw is fuelled by the external force like the withces in Macbeth,but jealousy seems to have a deep root in Othello’s character.

Jealousy is the main factor that appears to destroy Othello. Iago is the initiator of the chain of events that sparks jealousy in Othello, and eventually leads to the downfall of not only the main character, but also of most of the significant characters in the book.

In Othello Shakespeare presents us with the tragic spectacle of a man who,in spirit of jealous rage ,destroys what he loves best in all the world.We will be able to best realize the tragic effect jealousy if we consider first the nature of the relation between Othello and Desdemona.The marriage between Othello and Desdemona is a real ’marriage of true minds’, a true love based on a mutual awareness and a true appreciation of each other’s worth,a love that has in it none of the element of sensual lust.The love of Othello and Desdemona transcends the physical barriers of color,nationality and age.But this love is destroyed as soon as jealousness enters into the mind of Othello.

It is Iago who plants the seeds of suspicion and jealousy in Othello’s mind.In Act III: Scene 3,Cassio speaks to Desdemona, asking her to intercede with Othello on his behalf. Desdemona willingly agrees, knowing that Cassio is an old friend of Othello's. She promises to speak of him with her husband repeatedly until the quarrel is patched up and Cassio is recalled.

In the meantime, Othello and Iago enter and Cassio, who is embarrassed because of his antics the previous night, embraces Desdemona and departs. Iago seizes the opportunity to make an undermining comment — "Ha, I like not that" — that rankles in Othello's mind. Iago further insinuates that Cassio was not just leaving, but that he was "steal[ing] away so guilty-like" (39). Iago's words here are filled with forceful innuendo, and as he pretends to be a man who cannot believe what he sees, he introduces jealousy into Othello's subconscious.

Desdemona greets her husband and, without guilt, introduces Cassio's name into their conversation. Here, fate plays a major role in this tragedy; not even Iago wholly arranged this swift, coincidental confrontation of Othello, Desdemona, and Cassio, and certainly the pathos of Desdemona's position here is largely due to no other factor than fate. Desdemona speaks of Cassio, and Othello, to please her, agrees to see him, but he is distracted by his private thoughts.

As Desdemona leaves, Othello chides himself for being irritated by his wife. Lovingly he sighs, "Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul, / But I do love thee! and when I love thee not, / Chaos is come again" (90–92).

A conversation follows between Othello and Iago, in which Iago continues to imply that he knows something that he refuses to divulge, Othello denies that he would give himself over to jealousy. In his denial, he shows himself most vulnerable. He is consumed with doubt and suspicion. Othello voices his old fears that Brabantio was right, that it was unnatural for Desdemona to love him, that he was too horrible to be loved, and that it could not last. Iago leaves, and Othello contemplates his situation: He could be tricked, married to a woman who is already looking at other men, and he fears that he must wipe her out of his heart. He tries to tell himself that it is not true.

Iago also urges Othello to recall that Desdemona deceived her own father by marrying Othello. To Brabantio, Desdemona pretended to be afraid of Othello's dark looks; she pretended to shake and tremble at Othello's exotic demeanor, yet "she lov'd them [Othello's features] most" (207). The implication is clear; Iago does not have to state it: If Desdemona deceived her own flesh and blood, she might just as naturally deceive her husband.

When Desdemona re-enters, Othello's aspect is changed; he watches her intently, looking for signs, and brushes away her handkerchief when she seeks to sooth him. They go in to dinner, and Emilia picks up the fallen handkerchief, one that her husband, Iago, often urged her to steal from Desdemona. Emilia decides to have a copy made to give to Iago, but he enters, sees the handkerchief, and snatches it from her.

When Othello enters, Iago sees that Othello cannot regain his peace of mind. His speech is fevered, sweeping and frantic; he believes that his wife has been unfaithful to him. Othello then turns on Iago with savage intensity and demands to see the proof of Desdemona's infidelity. Cornered, Iago produces the dream story: Cassio spoke in his sleep, embraced him, called him Desdemona, and cursed the Moor. Iago tells Othello that he has seen Cassio wipe his brow with a handkerchief embroidered with strawberries; Othello recognizes this handkerchief as the one he gave to Desdemona.

Othello dismisses love and calls for vengeance. Certainty has freed his mind from doubt and confusion. Now he swears action, and Iago swears to help him. Othello wants Cassio dead, Iago agrees to do it, and then Othello wonders how to kill Desdemona.

The fire of jealousy is further inflamed in Othello in Act III: Scene 4.When Othello enters, he claims a headache and asks her for a handkerchief to bind his head, but he will have only the embroidered strawberry handkerchief. Desdemona cannot produce the handkerchief and tries to deflect his questions about the handkerchief, speaking again of Cassio. Othello walks out in fury.

But Othello is totally engulfed by his jealousy in Act IV: Scene 1,in which he Sees his wife's handkerchief in the hands of Cassio's mistress Bianca.It is, for Othello, the "ocular proof" he sought. He is now convinced of Desdemona's infidelity and knows he must kill both Cassio and Desdemona that very night. This is the second time Othello has sworn to kill both Cassio and Desdemona.

Othello goes directly to the point: "How shall I murder him, Iago?" Othello swears also to kill his wife this night, he curses her and weeps over her at the same time, mingling love and murder: "for she shall not live; no, my heart is turned to stone . . . " (178–179).

Still Othello knows the pull of love and asks for poison so that he might kill her at a distance, but he sees justice in Iago's idea of strangling her in her bed, imagining that she has dishonored that bed. Again the agreement is made: Iago is to kill Cassio, and Othello is to kill Desdemona.

Thus we see how the passion of jealousy ,which derives from pride and breeds anger ,gradually gains control over Othello and destroys his initial nobility,so that he finally turns into the black beast that he was at first unjustly accused of being.The decline in the moral and spiritual stature of Othello goes hand in hand with the destruction of his love for and faith in Desdemona.

Iago, “most honest” in the eyes of his companions, is, in fact, truly the opposite. His feelings of jealousy uncovers his actual self.

Jealousy divorces Iago from rationality and this loss of rational causes Iago to make a life of jealousy and plots to destroy Othello. Although Iago has a reputation of being “full of love and honesty” ,he is responsible for destroying many lives and is considered “perhaps one of the most villainous characters in all literature” .Iago alludes to Othello that his wife, Desdemona, has been unfaithful with Cassio. Iago initially intends to hurt Othello and make him regret appointing Cassio as his lieutenant; however, he ends up hurting others in the process. Iago’s jealousy causes his true character, one of “vicious[ness]” , to become noticeable. This, in turn, creates a new Othello to emerge, one “utterly possessed, calling out for blood and vengeance” .

The theme of jealousy is prominent throughout the play as it motivates the characters’ actions. The major characters of Iago and Othello clearly possess this jealousy and show how it affects them. Iago is forced to expose his actual nature and Othello undergoes a total transformation from a normal human to a spiteful monster. Obviously, jealousy does cause people to change in horrific ways.

The dramatic irony is that the most jealous indignation is expressed over offenses that did not happen: Othello jealous about his wife; Bianca jealous about Cassio; Iago formerly jealous about Emilia. Each character attempts to cope as an individual, except Emilia, who has a theory that jealousy is a constituent part of masculinity. The evidence before her own eyes backs up her assessment.

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