Jealousy and Ambition in Othello

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One of the main aspects explored through Shakespeare's Othello are the intense relationships which exist through human values such as jealousy and ambition. The way these themes are used to drive the plot forward and give purpose to the interactions at the core of the play allow for Othello to resonate even with contemporary society. Almost every character is deeply involved with another, creating a web of both lies and betrayal; two such relationships are those between Othello and Desdemona, and of course, between Iago and Othello. Despite the relationship having completely different dynamics, they remain vital to the effectiveness of the production itself. Desdemona and Othello are deeply in love with each other; that much is obvious. It is also a forbidden relationship, however, because the former is the daughter of a Venetian senator and the latter is a "black ram", an aging Moorish General within the Venetian army with little experience when it comes to romance. He is therefore vulnerable to ambitious men of lower rank such as his ensign Iago, who exploits Othello's marriage with the "maid so tender, fair and happy" that is Desdemona. The seeds of jealousy and ultimately his downfall, planted through the possibility of Cassio as Desdemona's adulterer, are thus nurtured through Othello's inferiority complex. The play uses this jealousy as one of the notions which brings forth Othello's anger and sadness, and by doing so shows viewers that the loving relationship between Othello and Desdemona, something so commonly seen in all societies, may be something fragile or even superficial, something easily destroyed by the assumptions of lust between her and Cassio. The relationship between the two may also be one not only of lust and love, but a relationship reflecting the way in which women were viewed in an Elizabethan context. Othello contradicts himself by ironically saying that he was "one that loved not wisely, but too well" despite having doubted and killed...
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