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Othello Criticism

By Seedeek May 02, 2013 879 Words
The Strength of Jealousy and Betrayal
Jealousy and betrayal are two words that often go hand in hand, especially in a relationship. In a relationship, the act of jealousy usually leads to betrayal when a person is being jealous of the other’s success and achievements. These type of relationships always have unpleasant endings that can be as bad as claiming the lives of innocent people around them. A good example of this is the drama Othello. In the drama Othello, Shakespeare shows how jealousy, betrayal, revenge can negatively impact people’s lives and can lead to series of tragedies in the life of a hero. At the start of act1, Roderigo was jealous of Othello’s marriage to Desdemona, and Iago promised that he will help him to get her but he ended up betraying him. While Roderigo and Iago were discussing Othello’s secret marriage with Desdemona, Roderigo was mad at Iago for not telling him beforehand because he is also in love with Desdemona and believed he had a better chance because of Othello’s race. Roderigo thought that Iago had betrayed him, not knowing that is the least of betrayals he can expect from him. Iago takes gold and jewels from Roderigo promising to deliver them to Desdemona but he never did. “The jewels you have had from me to deliver to Desdemona would half have corrupted a votarist: you have told me she hath received them and returned me expectations and comforts of sudden respect and acquaintance, but I find none” (Act4, Scene2). Iago has no moral, and he will do anything to ensure that he destroys Othello and also ensure that his secret is not revealed. He showed this when he killed Roderigo “without whom it is impossible his schemes can work” (Wilkes, Thomas). It was not surprising that Iago betrayed Roderigo because he does not really care about his feelings for Desdemona and he was only using him to get back at Othello for revenge. Iago was jealous of Othello’s success, so he decides to ruin his relationship with Desdemona. He was mad at Othello and said he actually hates him because he passed him for promotion and opted to choose “One Michael Cassio instead”. He betrayed Cassio by getting him drunk, which cost him his position, using him as a weapon to get back at Othello and even stabbed him in the leg. Due to the hatred and jealousy of Othello’s success, Iago decided to ruin his relationship with Desdemona. Othello trusts him so much he told him to accompany his wife to Cyprus. He lied to Othello that Desdemona was cheating on him with Cassio. Iago told his wife Emilia to steal Desdemona’s handkerchief which he placed in Cassio’s room. He said he saw it with Cassio, which is a proof that he is sleeping with Othello’s wife. He successfully made Othello believe this was true and he was quite good at being deceitful, enough to make him think she could be cheating on him because he is “a moor.” Iago was not the only character to betray someone in this play. “Sexual jealousy also plays an integral role in the plot of Othello” (Michael L. LaBlanc). Due to jealousy, Othello betrayed the love and trust of Desdemona by believing that she is cheating on him and eventually killed her and that lead to his destruction. Jealousy lead to Iago betraying is boss Othello by ruining his marriage. Iago who is the cause of all the tragedies due to his hatred and betrayal of Othello was also betrayed. Iago felt betrayed by Othello for passing him for promotion and choosing Michael Cassio. Even though he has no proof, he suspects Othello is sleeping with his wife, and he took revenge by breaking down Othello’s marriage. He told his wife to get him Desdemona’s handkerchief which she did and in the process, she betrayed Desdemona because “She places her desire to regain Iago's affection over her loyalty to her mistress.”(Ardolino, Frank). When she learnt about what Iago has done with the handkerchief, she told everyone that Desdemona did not cheat on Othello that Iago made the whole thing up. Iago felt betrayed and he killed her. Betrayals was evident in the drama Othello so much that Iago who is the cause of all the tragedies was also betrayed. Jealousy and betrayal can lead to series of tragedy including deaths of those involved and the innocent people around them. This was shown in Shakespeare’s Othello with the deaths of Roderigo, Emilia, Desdemona, and Othello. Even Iago who was the antagonist was arrested and it is almost certain that he will be punished.

Works Cited
Ardolino, Frank. "Pinter's Betrayal and Shakespeare's Othello." The Explicator 65.1 (2006): 50+. Literature Resource Center. Web. 25 Nov. 2012 LaBlanc, L. Michael. "Jealousy." Shakespearean Criticism. Vol. 72. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Literature Resource Center. Web. 25 Nov. 2012. Shakespeare, William. “Othello” Literature: The Human Experience. Ed. Richard Abcarian et al. 10th ed. Boston: Bedford. 2010. 958-1049. Wilkes, Thomas. "in an extract from Shakespeare." the Critical Heritage: 1753-1765. Ed. Brian Vickers. Vol. 4. Routledge Kegan Paul, 1976. 356-361. Rpt. in Shakespearean Criticism. Ed. Mark W. Scott. Vol. 4. Detroit: Gale Research, 1987. Literature Resource Center. Web. 25 Nov. 2012.

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