Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Othello jealousy

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Jealousy in Othello


The tragedy of Othello, written by William Shakespeare, is the play of jealousy. The jealousy created continually throughout the play causes characters to have deep suspicions and apprehension about each other. This jealousy over a period of time starts major rivalry between characters. Shakespeare has specifically done this to fuel emotions, frustration and conflicts amongst both the main and minor characters in Othello. The jealousy in Othello is revealed in several ways with the most prominent being sexual jealousy. However, position, vindictive and resentful jealousies also occur and help add to the unfolding of the plot.


Throughout the play many characters are suspicious and fearful of being displaced by a key rival. This jealousy cumulates into a tragic outcome with death, frustration and emotions that have been strained from the outset of the play. The characters, often not happy with their own life and the way it’s going, are compelled to interfere and control others.


It was originally Iago’s evil-minded intention to make Othello jealous of Cassio, as he suspected Othello of sleeping with his wife, Emilia. However, it was due to Iago’s cruel manipulation of Othello that made him jealous of Cassio and allowed him to believe that Cassio had slept with his wife, Desdemona. Sexual jealousy is paramount in Othello no more than when Roderigo was jealous of Desdemona. “Faith, I have heard too much, for your words and performances are no kin together.” Iago duped yet another character, Roderigo, into paying him to try and get “beautiful, sweet” Desdemona close to him. However, as all the other characters eventually found out, Iago’s intentions were for nobody’s pleasure other than his own. This created mixed feeling of jealousy and mistrust between the characters. All of the above situations were caused by the powerful and irrational act of sexual jealousy that caused a mountain of tension between characters.


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As well as sexual jealousy, Iago was guilty of position jealousy. Iago was also extremely jealous of Cassio as he believed that he, too, had slept with Emilia. In addition to this, Othello promoted Cassio, “a Florentine”, over Iago’s head even though he was inexperienced and unproven removed from the grit of the battlefield.


In Othello, Iago was a skilful master at manipulating and exploiting the other characters. Iago didn’t, despite all of the trouble he caused, have power over anything. The only thing he had control over were his emotions and, at times, he couldn’t even control them. He says “Tis in ourselves that we are thus or thus. Our bodies are our gardens, to which our wills are gardeners.” What he is means is that we only have control over ourselves. We are also the only one’s who can take control over our feelings. As soon as Iago put his scheme into action, he saw results “Now art thou my lieutenant.” He had Othello under his control, as he had anticipated. Iago told lies to Othello and to try and convince him to bring his own wants to life; one being lieutenant for Othello. Iago was ruthless and surmounted by jealousy, selfishness, prejudice, and he was also spiteful. He wanted to cause destruction for the sole purpose of satisfying his desires. A person could get pleasure out of hurting others, but there are always consequences. Iago also counted on the fact that the other characters believed he was honest for the entire time. His deceit was only revealed to us (the audience) and hence made us proxy to the foreshadowing of the final scene.


His manipulation is evident throughout the play, none more so than when he manages to convince “noble” Othello that his wife, Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio. He uses Emilia to steal the precious handkerchief off Desdemona, who is her best friend. This handkerchief, combined with his contrived conversation with Cassio about Bianca, and not Desdemona as Othello thought, was enough proof for jealous Othello to distrust his wife and eventually strangle her to death. He did this not out of hatred but out of immense jealousy and desperation as Iago was continually provoking him. He felt he had no other option “else she’ll betray more men.”


In Othello, jealousy is built up continually throughout the play and it reaches a climax just before Othello kills Desdemona where, Iago has managed to manipulate every character and force them to be jealous of another character in the play. It is Othello’s failure to distinguish between what is true and what is not that leads to the tragic outcome. In his last major speech Othello explains that he was “not easily jealous, but being wrought”. This statement shows how big of an impact Iago’s actions had on Othello’s feelings. Throughout Othello, Shakespeare is telling us how much of a powerful emotion jealousy is. Once it’s aroused, it can cause immeasurable harm. Also, when jealousy is built into this intensity, it is uncontrollable � as Iago found out.





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