The Role Of Jealousy In William Shakespeare's Othello

Improved Essays
Tragedies, in any form, are often written as lessons to readers about how not to live their lives. William Shakespeare’s famed tragedy, Othello, is no different. It is the story of Iago, a man who plots his revenge against the army general, Othello, attempting to convince Othello that his wife, Desdemona, is having an affair with Michael Cassio, the man he promoted to his lieutenant instead of Iago. Iago’s deception of Othello culminates in the deaths of four major characters, including Desdemona, who is killed by Othello, and Othello himself, who dies suicidally after he learns of Iago’s deception. Cassio is wounded severely in the leg, and Iago is dragged away to be tortured for the destruction he caused. Jealousy serves as the motivation …show more content…
Iago never truly relates his true motivations for his horrendous actions, but he does give a few possibilities. One possibility is that he is jealous of Cassio because Othello promoted Cassio instead of him. “Mere prattle without practice/Is all his soldiership (I.i.27-28), Iago describes Cassio to Roderigo, emphasizing that Othello promoted Cassio even though he “had seen the proof [of Iago’s skill]/At Rhodes, at Cyprus” (I.i.29-30). Already, Iago’s jealousy has become dangerous. As he gives this disparaging description to Roderigo, Iago is desperately trying to undermine Cassio, attempting to destroy his reputation. From page one, Shakespeare shows the destructive nature of jealousy, displaying how even a simple conversation can damage a reputation. Another possibility for Iago’s jealousy is that he wants retribution on Othello for a rumor he heard about an affair Othello had with Iago’s wife, Emilia: “It is thought abroad that ‘twixt my sheets/’Has done my office. I know not if ‘t be true,/But I.../Will do so as for surety” (I.iii.430-433). In this other source of Iago’s jealousy, Shakespeare continues to affirm his jealousy’s destructiveness. Iago’s hatred for Othello does not allow him to see past this rumor and he assumes it must be true. This single-minded thinking leads him to craft a plan to bring down both Othello and Cassio at the same time. The thought of …show more content…
He is blinded by the hatred for Desdemona and Cassio that he is not even willing to consider Desdemona’s innocence, as he turns down the proof she offers him. He does not give Desdemona any opportunity to respond to the accusations, merely responding: “Sweet soul, take heed, take heed of perjury./Thou art on thy deathbed” (V.ii.63-64). And this to a woman he used to, and possibly still does, love. Othello then strangles her and she dies. Iago, having killed Roderigo and injured Cassio, enters after Emilia. They all soon realize that Iago has been deceiving them the entire time. Iago, upset that Emilia has revealed to everyone his true motives, kills his wife. Othello, realizing all the destruction he has caused, kills himself to be with Desdemona, pointing out that he “used to be Othello,” emphasizing that he has recognized that he is no longer the man who fought for Desdemona, but has been turned into a monster by Iago’s obsession with vengeance. With this final scene of the play, Shakespeare presents us with the last, and certainly most overwhelming display of jealousy’s destructive force. Iago is surrounded by destroyed lives and relationships, and he has caused every ounce of it just to get

Related Documents

  • Improved Essays

    Thematic Analysis Othello

    • 814 Words
    • 4 Pages

    He is jealous, manipulated and cannot think strait which leads him to kill Desdemona. When there are things going wrong mentally it changes the person completely. This affects the people around them, no fictional character or reader could forget what happens in this book showing phsycological warefare affects everyone and has long lasting effects. What is longer lasting than death? As a result of Iago’s manipulation four characters are dead and even he is sent to be tortured “I kissed thee ere I killed thee.” (Shakespeare 5.2.420) Othello being the main target of Iago killed Desdemona and then himself.…

    • 814 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    With his father just being murdered by his uncle Claudius and Polonius banning the relationship between him and Ophelia, the only thought running through Hamlet’s mind was anger and revenge. The acts of violence throughout the play comes in three different forms; murder, suicide, and combat. Polonius is unexpectedly murdered, Ophelia goes mad and commits…

    • 1500 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Othello emphasizes that he is going to kill her, and Desdemona asks him why. Othello, filled with anger, asks Desdemona about the handkerchief he gave her. Desdemona tells Othello many times that she lost it, but Iago has already manipulated Othello into thinking that she gave it to Cassio. Othello had a chance to at least give her the benefit of the doubt, but he does not. Instead, jealousy takes over him and suddenly “He smothers her” (5.2.82).…

    • 1180 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The most obvious moment where Othello’s insanity shines is during the final scene when during his murder of Desdemona. He displays his love and anger as he demands Desdemona to “do it, and be brief” because he “would not kill [Desdemona’s] unprepared spirit” (5.2.33-34). Here Othello depicts his insanity as he is consumed in a storm of love and rage. Despite Desdemona’s constant plea of not being guilty, Othello refuses to believe her and asks her again before he kills her. This stubborn insanity causes the audience to feel sorry for Othello as his thoughts are permanently scarred.…

    • 1127 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Hamlet couldn 't control his actions and killed Polonius thinking that he was Claudius; however Hamlet felt no remorse or guilt. He hated his mother for marrying Claudius right after his father’s death and couldn 't trust his friends. The only person that was loyal to Hamlet in the end was Horatio; Horatio was ready to die along with Hamlet when he was poisoned. Hamlet indirectly was the cause to everyone else 's death. The murder of Polonius caused Ophelia to go insane and drown herself, and the death of Laertes 's sister and father caused him to take action and plan with Claudius to kill Hamlet.…

    • 1428 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The biggest part in the story that jealousy is shown is in the ending, mainly because this is were Othello kills his wife because of Iago 's trickery. The Author states "just a minute!-shes dead now.-Emilia 's probably come to tell me that Cassio 's been killed." 5.2.104-105. As you can see in this part of the text Othello is in the middle of killing his wife, he is killing his wife because of the evil brainwash that Iago has put him through, creating a vision in Othello 's mind that Desdemona is cheating on him with Cassio. In the beginning of the play Iago shows jealousy because he has a yen for Cassio 's spot, thus causing everything in the play to unravel.…

    • 1066 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Othello Jealousy Theme

    • 1138 Words
    • 5 Pages

    Lastly, the protagonist Othello not only died but killed the only person in the world he loved because of the fatal flaw of jealousy. In all circumstances jealousy claimed an early death. The evil trait took over the thoughts and actions of all these characters and consequently resulted in dreadful…

    • 1138 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    As he formulates this plan, Hamlet curses that he "must, like a whore, unpack [his] heart with words / And fall a-cursing like a very drab / A stallion!" (2.2.614-616). He seems to recognize and resent the dishonorable, and possibly womanly, way he is proceeding with his revenge. However, Hamlet employs deceptive and indirect action again in his dealings with Guildenstern and Rosencrantz, whom he suspects of deceiving him in return. Unlike Polonius 's death, Hamlet 's murder of his schoolmates is not a heated, impulsive act.…

    • 1838 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Iago’s envious desire to be in Cassio’s position and his suspicions of Othello being with his wife causes him to create plans that destroy people’s reputations and corrupt the trustworthiness of innocent people. In one of Iago’s soliloquies, he reveals his plan to make Othello think that Cassio has been seeing his…

    • 1129 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Superior Essays

    However this type of revenge isn 't inflicted onto another person. There is a twist this time when Othello takes revenge on himself by committing his own suicide. After realizing the horrifying reality of the mistake he has made by killing desdemona he is so distraught with himself and tormented with his own guilt that can no longer live with that weight and kills himself in grief. As stated in the original play Othello , Othello says right before his own justified death , “I kiss 'd thee ere I kill 'd thee: no way but this; Killing myself, to die upon a kiss” ( Othello ll 410) He shows deep remorse for his actions and realizes that all the jealousy and vengeful thoughts and actions were all taken in vain upon realizing the devastating truth and reality of it all. Although he thought to be justified in his actions it all is revealed to be fuelled by revenge.…

    • 1309 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Superior Essays

Related Topics