Othello and the Seven Deadly Sins

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It is the basic crux of Christianity: Man is born a sinner. Throughout history, the nature of sin has seen many different faces and has changed to fit many different social expectations. As Bartleby the angel laments in the movie Dogma, “I remember when eating meat on Friday was supposed to be a Hell-worthy trespass.” His friend Loki counters with the observation that, “The major sins never change.” Although the list of the Seven Deadly Sins is never mentioned in the Bible, the concept has existed since before the Middle Ages. Anger, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, and sloth are present throughout human civilization even when they are not named as such or displayed as a set of seven. William Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello is a literary example of how these vices slip into our daily behaviors and, ultimately, ruin our lives. Each of the Seven Deadly Sins is displayed in this classic play, each with tragic or deadly consequences.

Othello is an easy prey to his insecurities because of his age, his life as a soldier, and his self-consciousness about being a racial and cultural outsider. Pride, envy, and sloth surrounded Othello throughout this play. Othello's pride prevents him from finding the truth, which eventually leads to his demise. His knowledge of his own pride can be found in (Act I, Scene II, 18-26) where he states: “Let him do his spite: My services which I have done the signiory Shall out-tongue his complaints. 'Tis yet to know,--Which, when I know that boasting is an honour, I shall promulgate--I fetch my life and being From men of royal siege, and my demerits May speak unbonneted to as proud a fortune As this that I have reach'd: for know, Iago, But that I love the gentle Desdemona, I would not my unhoused free condition Put into circumscription and confine For the sea's worth.” Othello was so desperate to hold on to his former identity as a soldier when his new identity as a lover/newlywed starts to fall apart that his envy quickly goes from...
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