Jealousy and Othello

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How does shakespeare explore the theme of authority in ‘Othello’?

In the play Othello, Shakespeare explores through the theme of authority. He presents different types of authority such as racial, military, political, sexist, emotional and deception. Shakespeare uses techniques such as characterisation, symbolism, contrast, repetition, dramatic irony and pronouns to help portray the theme of authority.

Shakespeare uses characterisation to develop the characters to help express authority in Othello. Othello is seen as the protagonist and tragic hero of the play. He is described as an eloquent and physically powerful figure at the beginning of the play. He uses his experience of fighting in the battlefields to woo Desdemona and to gain her love. “She loved me for the dangers I had passed, and I loved her that she did pity them.” From this Othello gains authority over Desdemona as she loves him. He is depicted as a general who is of military authority over the armies of Venice, but also as a moor in the eyes of Iago, Brabantio and Roderigo because of his racial colour. “Your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs.” In spite of his military status, he possesses a free and open nature which Iago uses to his advantage to twist Othello’s love for Desdemona, which turns his love into an uncontrollable and insane jealousy. Due to Iago’s manipulation Othello becomes obsessive and compulsive which adds fire to the jealousy within Othello.

Shakespeare portrays Iago as a manipulative and evil person. He is seen as the antagonist of the play. Envy of Cassio, jealousy of Othello’s possession of Desdemona, jealous fear that both Othello and Cassio may have cuckolded him and the incessant desire for money and power is what fuels Iago’s motivations and leads to Iago’s destructive actions. Iago like Othello is motivated by the same envy and jealousy that arouses murderous hatred. Iago’s desire for power leads Iago to manipulate and...
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