Jealousy, “the green-eyed monster”
Shakespeare is consistent in his use of repeated themes throughout his works, particularly those of love, death, and betrayal. Shakespeare repeats these themes to set the mood through his works. It is important for Shakespeare to be consistent with his themes, or the plays would lose their meaning and mood. All of these themes are present in Othello, but the most dominant is the theme of jealousy, which presents itself multiple times throughout the play. We see the kind of jealousy which is envy of what others have, and as the kind of which is fear of losing what we have. According to The New Lexicon Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language, “jealousy is a state of fear, suspicion, revenge or envy caused by real or imagined threat or challenge to one’s possessive instincts. It may be provoked by rivalry in sexual love by competition or by desires for the qualities or possessions of another.” Jealousy is an evil trait, “O, beware my Lord, of jealousy! It is the green-eyed monster” and will lead people to do abominable envious attacks (Shakespeare III.iii.). Jealousy plays a huge role on the characters of Othello, as it does not get the characters anywhere, or gain the characters anything. Jealousy is the main cause of misery, heartbreak, and death in Shakespeare’s Othello. Shakespeare’s Othello may seem to be a play of many jealous men, but really it is one man’s jealousy to blame for the fall of others, and that man is Iago. Iago is a jealous, two-faced, lying, villain, who is out to get revenge on everybody, and tricks people into believing that his every word is true. Iago even says, “And what’s he then that says I play the villain, when this advice is free I give and honest” stating he had is way of making people believe his antics were innocent and true (Shakespeare II.iii.). Iago’s main mission is to destroy Othello, general of the armies of Venice. Iago’s anger toward Othello began when Othello overlooked him for the position of lieutenant. This lead to Iago’s jealousy of Michael Cassio, whom Othello made lieutenant, Iago says Cassio, “This counter-coaster/ And I bless the mark, his Moorship’s ancient”, because Cassio has the job Iago wanted (Shakespeare I.i.). Iago’s anger toward Othello then turns into jealousy when he hears a rumor that Othello has slept with his wife, Emilia: “It is thought abroad that ’twixt my sheets He has done my office.” (Shakespeare I.iii.). Iago’s jealousy toward Cassio and Othello gave him the idea to seek revenge with a plan of destruction.
Iago’s plan began with Roderigo, a young, rich, and foolish man, envious of Othello, whom is married to his desired love Desdemona. Roderigo went to great heights to be with Desdemona as he was convinced that paying Iago all of his money will help him in his suit to Desdemona. Roderigo then realizes Desdemona is married to Othello and blames it on Iago for not realizing that sooner. Roderigo was using Iago because he knew the hate and jealousy Iago has toward Othello, “Thou told’st me thou didst hold him in thy hate.” “Despise me if I do not.” (Shakespeare I.i.). Roderigo may be using Iago, but what he does not know is Iago is using him as well. Iago knew the extent Roderigo would go to, to be with Desdemona. Iago’s first idea was to tell Brabanzio, Venetian senator and Desdemona’s father, that he has been robbed “you’ll have your daughter covered with Barbary horse; you’ll have your nephews neigh to you; you’ll have coursers for cousins, and gennets for Germans.”, Othello has stolen his daughter by witchcraft (Shakespeare I.i.). Brabanzio who has twice accused Othello of using magic or witchcraft to seduce Desdemona, accuses him a third time, for he does not understand why Desdemona would fall for a man like Othello. Iago had hope this plan would get rid of Othello, but it backfired. Othello explains that he won Desdemona not by witchcraft, but by stories about his adventures of travel and war....
Cited: Shakespeare, William. Othello. The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyers. 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s 2009. 1164-1244. Print.
The New Lexicon Webster 's Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language. Ed. Bernard S Cayne. Lexicon Publications. Encyclopedia Edition. 1989
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