Othello represents how jealousy, particularly sexual jealousy, is one of the most corrupting and destructive of emotions. It is jealousy that prompts Iago to plot Othello's downfall; jealousy, too, is the tool that Iago uses to arouse Othello's passions. Roderigo and Bianca demonstrate jealousy at various times in the play, and Emilia demonstrates that she too knows the emotion well. Only Desdemona and Cassio, the true innocents of the story, seem beyond its clutches. Shakespeare used the theme in other plays, but nowhere else is it portrayed as quite the "green- eyed" monster it is in this play. Since it is an emotion that everyone shares, we watch its destructive influence on the characters with sympathy and horror.
How jealousy works in Othello
Shakespeare’s Othello is very close to the Aristotle’s conception of tragedy,specially in respect ofthe portrayal of the protagonist Othello. Like a classical tragic Othello in the tragedy Othello falls from his position due to his his ’tragic flaw’ jealousy.Jealousy is the main tragic flaw that brings about Othello’s misfortune,suffering, and death.Though this flaw is fuelled by the external force like the withces in Macbeth,but jealousy seems to have a deep root in Othello’s character.
Jealousy is the main factor that appears to destroy Othello. Iago is the initiator of the chain of events that sparks jealousy in Othello, and eventually leads to the downfall of not only the main character, but also of most of the significant characters in the book.
In Othello Shakespeare presents us with the tragic spectacle of a man who,in spirit of jealous rage ,destroys what he loves best in all the world.We will be able to best realize the tragic effect jealousy if we consider first the nature of the relation between Othello and Desdemona.The marriage between Othello and Desdemona is a real ’marriage of true minds’, a true love based on a mutual awareness and a true appreciation of each other’s worth,a love that has in it none of the element of sensual lust.The love of Othello and Desdemona transcends the physical barriers of color,nationality and age.But this love is destroyed as soon as jealousness enters into the mind of Othello.
It is Iago who plants the seeds of suspicion and jealousy in Othello’s mind.In Act III: Scene 3,Cassio speaks to Desdemona, asking her to intercede with Othello on his behalf. Desdemona willingly agrees, knowing that Cassio is an old friend of Othello's. She promises to speak of him with her husband repeatedly until the quarrel is patched up and Cassio is recalled.
In the meantime, Othello and Iago enter and Cassio, who is embarrassed because of his antics the previous night, embraces Desdemona and departs. Iago seizes the opportunity to make an undermining comment — "Ha, I like not that" — that rankles in Othello's mind. Iago further insinuates that Cassio was not just leaving, but that he was "steal[ing] away so guilty-like" (39). Iago's words here are filled with forceful innuendo, and as he pretends to be a man who cannot believe what he sees, he introduces jealousy into Othello's subconscious.
Desdemona greets her husband and, without guilt, introduces Cassio's name into their conversation. Here, fate plays a major role in this tragedy; not even Iago wholly arranged this swift, coincidental confrontation of Othello, Desdemona, and Cassio, and certainly the pathos of Desdemona's position here is largely due to no other factor than fate. Desdemona speaks of Cassio, and...