The True Nature of Obsession (Othello, Endless Love and Damoyre)

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The true nature of obsession manipulates a person’s character, forcing them to act in unusual ways, as if possessed by an involuntary need. An obsessed mind becomes intensely absorbed in the subject of the obsession to an extent that drives away the truth and realism in their values, morals and perceptions. William Shakespeare manifests this idea of an involuntary change in character in the play “Othello”, and with a similar approach this idea is identified by Scott Spencer in the novel “Endless Love” and is further explored in “Obsession”, a poem written by DaMoyre. Throughout each of these texts, the composers’ use of characterization depicts the true nature of obsession with themes of jealously, revenge and, as a consequence, madness.

Amidst the pursuit of an obsession, a person can lose their perception of truth and reality, becoming ignorant and easily persuaded. This fault in character leads a person to the captivating and consuming world of jealously. Shakespeare pursues this idea in his characterization of both Othello and Iago. In the inauguration of the text “Othello”, Othello’s character is conveyed as strong willed and undefeatable, however due to his intense and passionate love for his new wife, Desdemona, Othello’s strength is weakened and he becomes easily persuaded with “honest, honest” Iago’s lies. Due to his obsessive state of mind and the true nature of obsession, Othello’s character becomes weak and malleable, with the assistance of his trusted companion, the deceiving Iago. Othello himself recognizes the jealousy that has arisen and describes it as “ jealousy so strong/ that judgment cannot cure”. This statement highlights Othello’s lose of control over his own perceptions. Whilst the true nature of obsession can captivate and control the temperament of a person’s character with negative features of jealousy including ignorance, vanity, naivety and vulnerability there are also positive aspects of obsession driven jealousy. Scott Spencer identifies this idea with his text “ Endless Love”. Spencer wrote this novel in first person, a technique that provides profundity of insight into the obsession driven mind of manipulated the adolescent character, David. Spencer uses the characterization of David to exemplify themes of passion, devotion and loyalty as he explains “There was nothing in my life that wasn’t alive with meaning”. Although David’s motives for love where mainly sexually driven, it is evident that he found elation in his obsessive love for Jade. Iago’s obsession with sex becomes evident as it is manifested throughout the play “Othello”. Iago uses sexual innuendos and speaks of other characters sex lives with a depiction of jealously. When in conversation with Cassio, Iago describes Desdemona as “sport for Jove”, referring to Jove, and the king of the gods, who is often associated with sex. This statement suggests that Iago imagines Desdemona as a skilled and powerful goddess in sexual situations. It is ironic that Iago constantly refers to other men’s wives with this adulterated sexual manner and seldom refers to his own wife with such sexual nature when his goal is to convince Othello of Desdemona’s unfaithfulness with Cassio. Iago’s jealous nature drives the implications of Shakespeare’s play, manipulating not only Iago but also those associated with him, into obsession driven revenge.

Shakespeare conveys his ideas of obsession driven revenge with his use of characterization. As each character is taken over and consumed with their intensive, involuntary need for revenge their transformations are overwhelming. The audience’s initial impression of Othello’s character to be loyal, passionate and devoted to his wife is manifested by Shakespeare when he states “By the world, I think my wife to be honest”, which is juxtaposed with Othello’s jealous, revenge driven transformation of character that exclaims “let me hear thee say that Cassios not alive”. As a result of a jealously driven...
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