Explore how Shakespeare examines the themes if jealousy and deception in Othello the play and Othello the character.
Jealousy and Deception are both continuous themes running through out Shakespeare’s Othello. Indeed, it is jealousy that provides the fuel for the plot and deception that leads to the classic downfall of the 'hero' as is common in Shakespeare tragedies. However, it is a theme of hate that the play opens. It is a hate of inveterate anger. It is a hate that is bound up with envy hanging on a strained thread waiting to snap. In The Tragedy of Othello, William Shakespeare tells the tale of the “noble Moor” whose honour and innocence bring about his downfall. Shakespeare writes of the power of jealousy, and the art of masterful deception and trickery. The story primarily takes place in Cyprus, during a war between the people of Venice and the invading Turks. In this play Shakespeare shows the feeling of Othello’s embittered right-hand man, Iago. Iago's resentment erupts at his being passed over for a promotion to the position of Othello's lieutenant. He vows to retaliate against Othello by proceeding to manipulate his friends, enemies, and family into doing his bidding without any of them realizing. He leads Othello to believe that his new wife, the innocent Desdemona, is committing adultery with his newly promoted officer Michael Cassio. After a seed of jealousy has been planted, Othello’s mind takes its course in determining the true outcome, with a few more prompts from Iago. The chain of events that proceeded to follow is one that not only ends his own life, but also the life of his wife
What is deception? Deception is a wrongful act, to ‘deceive another, illusion, or fraud’. Deception, however, may be used with good intentions instinctively to protect someone from getting distressed. An example of deception with good intent is when in Act 1 Desdemona hides her relationship with Othello from her father, questioning whether he will approve due to Othello’s race. Her father, the Venetian senator Brabantio says, “O, she deceives me/Past thought!” (1.1.163-164). The act of deception on Desdemona’s part toward her father was to protect him from intricate truths. She discerned that her father would eventually find out the truth, but she felt that by concealing her relationship with Othello, she would be delaying the inevitable pain which her father was going to feel when he learnt it. Since Desdemona loved her father, her deception was done with only good hearted intentions.
Desdemona displays her courage in marrying Othello even after the objections of her father, Brabantio. However, ultimately what is at stake for Desdemona is not triumphing over her father but loving her husband. Her exposition of the reasons she loves Othello defines her essential character, as a woman of loyalty and fidelity to him
Desdemona remains loyal to her husband throughout the play. An example of her loyalty is when Roderigo, who is desperately in love with her, expresses his jealousy of her marriage to Othello by exclaiming, "What a full fortune does the thick-lips owe [own] / If he can carry't thus!" (1.1.66-67) and gets rejected. After Desdemona makes it clear that she loves and honours her husband, Brabantio remains vindictive, and bitterly warns Othello that Desdemona may turn out to be a slut: "Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see: / She has deceived her father, and may
thee" (1.3.292-293). This is the first seed to jealously was planted into Othello’s mind not by Iago, but by Brabantio. Shakespeare uses Brabantio here to warn the audience and caution Othello about the forthcoming events.
Shakespeare intends Iago, who has more lines in the play than Othello, to be the ‘tragic villain’ who strives to cause chaos and catastrophe for his own ends. “I am not what I am (1.1.66)”. At the very start of the play, even before the audience witness him stir up with his fallacious lies, he...
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