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Along with Hamlet, King Lear and Macbeth, Othello is one of the four greatest tragedies written during Shakespeare’s tragic period. But Othello is unique among the others. Unlike Hamlet, King Lear and Macbeth, which are set against a backdrop of affairs of the nation, Othello focuses on human nature. Love, jealousy, racism and deceit are universal themes not only evident in Shakespeare’s time, but also in our time and in the future. They are patterns of human nature which are continuous in the history of mankind, which is what makes the play Othello “timeless”. Shakespeare’s use of blank verse and dramatic techniques allow universal themes of jealousy, prejudice and illusion to be explored. Shakespeare explores the conflicts jealousy cause through the characterization of Othello, the machinations of antagonist Iago, and the deaths of those who are innocent, Desdemona and Emilia. Jealousy is the key cause of the machinations of Iago which causes Othello’s tragic downfall. In Act 1, Iago displays jealousy of Cassio as he was passed over for promotion to lieutenant. His plotting with Roderigo reveals his antagonism towards Othello and desire to bring about his demise. Iago’s soliloquy reveals to the audience the true and evil nature of his plans where he uses binary opposition “birth” and “Hell”, “night” and “light”. The jealousy originated from Iago is then spread like poison to various characters, with the use of imagery to portray jealousy as poison and disease. In the line by Iago “The Moor already changes with my poison: Dangerous conceits are in their nature poisons, which at first are scarce found to distaste But, with a little act upon the blood, Burn like the mines of Sulphur. ”poison is used as a metaphor of jealousy, describing the danger of jealousy. Jealousy can also be seen in Roderigo. The line “What a full fortune does the thick- lips owe” shows his jealousy of Othello having Desdemona. Iago then put doubt into Othello’s mind of Desdemona’s...
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