Othello Themes and Issues

Topics: Othello, Iago, Michael Cassio Pages: 24 (7703 words) Published: July 4, 2012
The Themes and Issues in: OTHELLO
by William Shakespeare

I think that this is one of the main themes in Othello and the play focuses on the dangers of jealousy. The play is a good example of how jealousy can be fueled by circumstantial evidence and how it can destroy lives. For example in this play: Othello succumbs to jealousy when Iago convinces him that his wife is having an affair with her friend Cassio which leads to Othello murdering his wife for her betrayal and then commits suicide. In my opinion it is interesting that Iago uses jealousy against Othello because jealousy is the source of Iago's hatred in the first place. The play takes on many forms of jealousy such as sexual suspicion, professional competition with the result being destructive in all cases. Here is an example of Iago's professional jealousy. Quote

One Michael Cassio, a Florentine,
A fellow almost damn'd in a fair wife;
That never set a squadron in the field,
Nor the division of a battle knows
More than a spinster; unless the bookish theoric,
Wherein the toged consuls can propose
As masterly as he: mere prattle, without practise,
Is all his soldiership. But he, sir, had the election:
And I, of whom his eyes had seen the proof
At Rhodes, at Cyprus and on other grounds
Christian and heathen, must be be-lee'd and calm'd
By debitor and creditor: this counter-caster,
He, in good time, must his lieutenant be (1.1.2)

Here Iago claims that he hates Othello because Othello passed him over for a promotion and gave Michael Cassio the job as his military lieutenant instead. In this paragraph Iago claims he's far more qualified than Cassio, who lacks Iago's experience on the field of battle which comes across as jealous as instead of being pleased for Cassio he can only criticise him. Quote

I hate the Moor:
And it is thought abroad, that 'twixt my sheets
He has done my office: I know not if't be true;
But I, for mere suspicion in that kind,
Will do as if for surety. (1.3.12)
In the beginning of the play Iago states that he hates Othello because 'the Moor' passed him over for a promotion yet here Iago says he hates Othello because he's heard a rumour that Othello has been having an affair with his wife Emilia. Even though Iago says he doesn't know if the rumour's true he continues with his plan to destroy Othellos life anyway. I think at this point Iago has listed a couple of incompatible motives for seeking to destroy Othello such as Othello failing to promote him and a suspected affair however I think planning to destroy his life shows how overcome with jealousy Iago is. Quote

Cassio's a proper man: let me see now:
To get his place and to plume up my will
In double knavery--How, how? Let's see:--
After some time, to abuse Othello's ear
That he is too familiar with his wife.
He hath a person and a smooth dispose
To be suspected, framed to make women false.
The Moor is of a free and open nature,
That thinks men honest that but seem to be so,
And will as tenderly be led by the nose
As asses are.
I have't. It is engender'd. Hell and night
Must bring this monstrous birth to the world's light. (1.3.12)

Iago claimed that he suspects Othello has been sleeping with his wife and here he shares his plot to destroy Othello with the audience. He plans on making Othello believe his wife is having an affair with Cassio by planting seeds of jealousy in Othello however he sees his plan as a 'monstrous birth' and a thing that he will bring 'to light' which doesnt make sense as he is using a dark trait of his own and planning to use it against Othello. Quote

Why, why is this?
Think'st thou I'ld make a life of jealousy,
To follow still the changes of the moon
With fresh suspicions? No; to be once in doubt
Is once to be resolved: exchange me for a goat,
When I shall turn the business of my soul
To such exsufflicate and blown surmises,
Matching thy inference. 'Tis not to make me jealous
To say my wife is fair,...
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