Othello And Jealousy Essay Research Paper Throughout

Othello And Jealousy Essay, Research Paper

Throughout Shakespeare?s Othello, the major theme of jealousy is apparent.

According to Microsoft Bookshelf, jealousy, by definition, means ?resentful or

bitter in rivalry.? The tragedy Othello focuses on the doom of Othello and the

other major characters as a result of jealousy. The theme of jealousy is

prominent throughout the play as it motivates the characters? actions. In

Shakespeare?s Othello, 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. Iago, ?most honest? (I, iii, 7) in

the eyes of his companions, is, in fact, truly the opposite. His feelings of

jealousy uncovers his actual self. D.R. Godfrey concludes this after hearing

Iago state that he ?ha? look?d upon the world for four times seven

years? (I, iii, 311-2). In his essay, Godfrey explains that Iago ?has

arrived at one of the great seven year?critical stages? (421) of his life,

causing him to become ?jealous, embittered, ? [and] vengeful.? (421).

Iago?s dupe, Roderigo, is the only person, in fact, to know this previously;

Iago tells Roderigo that he is ?not what [he is]? (I, i, 69). He possesses

this jealousy because he is distressed that Othello chose Michael Cassio, a

?valiant? (II, i, 98), ?Florentine?arithmetician? (I, i, 19-20), over

himself for the position of lieutenancy. Jealousy ?divorces [Iago]?from

rationality?, Godfrey states (418). This loss of rational causes Iago to

?make a life of jealousy? (III, iii, 204) and plots to destroy Othello.

Although Iago has a reputation of being ?full of love and honesty? (III,

iii, 138), he is responsible for destroying many lives and is considered

?perhaps one of the most villainous characters in all literature? (Godfrey

422). 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]? (Godfrey

421), to become noticeable. This, in turn, creates a new Othello to emerge, one

?utterly possessed, calling out for blood and vengeance? (Godfrey 418).

Othello, considered by A.C. Bradley one of ?the most romantic figure[s] among

Shakespeare?s heroes? (1) and a ?dignified? (2) ?poet? (1), quickly

becomes entranced by Iago?s ?vengeful[ness]? (Godfrey, 421). Othello,

placing entire confidence in Iago?s honesty, has been ?moved by the warnings

of [his]?honest?friend? (Bradley 3). At first, Othello does not believe

Iago; but his ?degradation is complete? (Godfrey 418) by the end of the

?Temptation Scene? (III, iii). Even though Iago produces a minimal amount of

proof, a ?handkerchief that Iago may have seen Cassio wipe his beard with, and

Cassio?s alleged?dreams? (Godfrey 418), Othello is completely ?possessed

by the madness of jealousy? (Godfrey 419). He immediately ?passes sentence[s]

of death? (Godfrey 418) to Cassio and Desdemona, deciding that Desdemona

should die ?some swift means of death? (III, iii, 479). One can tell that

Iago?s jealousy has, in fact, corrupted Othello. This great poet (Bradley 1),

Othello, previously had spoken of Desdemona, his wife, as ?wondrous? (I,

iii, 160) and ?Heaven[ly]? (I, iii, 258); after hearing from Iago that

Desdemona and Cassio are having an affair, his tone changes and begins to speak

like Iago. He begins to use ?gross, animal imagery? (Rocchino 3-9-00) to

make references to his wife and women in general. For example, he calls

Desdemona a ?haggard? (III, iii, 261), while also labeling her derogatory

names like ?lewd minx? (III, iii, 487) and ?whore? (IV, ii, 99).

Although Othello is most affected by Iago?s jealousy, the repercussions on

others are very evident. Othello?s jealousy destroys his love through his

hatred. He can no longer have doubts about his wife?s guilt; therefore, he

must finally act against it by ?assuming the mask of impersonal justice?

(Godfrey 420). He must ?kill? (V, ii, 32) Desdemona. Even though Desdemona

tries to tell him the truth, Othello is completely irrational, refusing to

listen (V, ii). Emilia, too, is murdered as a repercussion of Iago?s jealousy.

When she states the truth that she ?found by fortune [the handkerchief] and

did give it to [her] husband? (V, ii, 225), Iago, calling her a ?villainous

whore? (V, ii, 227), stabs Emilia from behind, murdering her. Othello then

seriously wounds Iago with his ?sword of Spain? (V, ii, 252). He does not

want to kill Iago because it is ?happiness to die? (V, ii, 289). Instead, he

wants him to live a life of suffering. As the truth comes out about Iago?s

deception, Othello realizes the damage he has caused by believing Iago, which

led to the deaths of Roderigo, Desdemona, and Emilia. He then ?smote[s]

him[self]? (V, ii, 355), resulting in his immediate death. The punishments

are, according to Godfrey, ?justified? (423) in that the ?destroyer is by

himself destroyed? (423). Because the major theme of jealousy is apparent

throughout Shakespeare?s Othello, one realizes that the play focuses on the

doom of Othello and the other major characters as a result of this jealousy. 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



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