Othello: Love, War and Jealousy as One

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As a mercenary of the highest order, the Moor Othello climbed the ranks of the Venetian army. His exceptional reputation allowed him entry into the elite, white, Venetian society and helped him earn the love of the senator's beautiful daughter Desdemona. Initially, Othello is presented as the epitome of military expertise and masculinity, yet as the play progresses the qualities that have elevated his rank contribute to his tragic downfall. His inability to separate the worlds of love and war is Othello's tragic flaw, and from the earliest moments in the play, his career affects his marriage. Preying on the weaknesses of the renowned Othello, Iago insinuates Othello's loyal lieutenant Cassio is having an affair with Desdemona. This lie is a catalyst for the horrific chain of events that begin with Othello heartlessly murdering his innocent wife before committing suicide. Othello confuses the worlds of love and war from the very beginning of the play. As soon as he arrives to Cyprus, he greets Desdemona with the cry, “Oh my fair warrior!” (II.i.167). He uses the term fair to describe Desdemona’s light skin, which represents purity as well as beauty. However, calling Desdemona a warrior, rather than his wife or lover, is where readers first see Othello’s two worlds dangerously enmeshing. Along with the fact that he is unable to keep his personal life separated from his career, Othello is a jealous man, and Iago wastes no time identifying this. After Iago suggests that Othello would become jealous of Cassio and suspicious of Desdemona, Othello responds by saying, “Think’st thou I’d make a life of jealousy, / To follow still the changes of the moon / With fresh suspicions? No! / ….The smallest fear or doubt of her revolt, / For she had eyes and chose me.” (III.iii.182-195). Othello continues and, in the same passage, says “No, Iago, / I’ll see before I doubt, when I doubt, prove, / And on the proof there is no more but this: / Away at once with love or jealousy!”...
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