Othello: Theme Jealousy Essay

Jealous is a reoccurring theme in history and today. Jealousy can be helpful because it can prompt people to achieve greater feats, like Microsoft’s competition with Apple. Microsoft’s jealousy of the Ipad sparked their creation of the new tablet computer. In the late fifteenth century, western Europeans were jealous of the literature and technological advances of the Arabs. These jealous feelings potentially initiated the commencement of the Renaissance. This revived interest in writing and literature brought in authors like Shakespeare to write about common themes and verisimilitudes of the everyday renaissance life.

This theme of jealousy can be expressed in the drama Othello written by William Shakespeare. Through people’s emotions, perceptions of others, and actions, Shakespeare demonstrates how jealousy destroys humans. Emotions are easily effected, with internal and external factors. One little disturbance, and emotions are shifted, manipulated and changed. Jealousy can change people’s emotions, taking one’s heart, and replacing it full of vengeance. Jealousy takes an ordinary person and makes power-hungry for revenge monster. In Iago’s soliloquy, he shows the audience what drives his hatred of Othello. For that I do suspect the lusty Moor/ Hath leaped into my seat. The thought whereof/ Doth, like a poisonous mineral, gnaw my inwards,/ And nothing can or shall content my soul/ Till I am evened with him, wife for wife;(2. 1. 292-296). ” Iago is full of contempt. Rumour has it that Othello slept with Emilia, and using similes to refer to Othello as a poisonous mineral infesting Iago’s wife, almost leaves the audience feeling almost apologetic for Iago. Saying that Othello forced his way in between Iago and Emilia makes Othello look ruthless and evil.

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It makes Emilia look like an innocent victim who has been “infested by this poisonous mineral”. Iago also calls Othello “lusty” a term that means wants for sexual desire. Iago continues by saying “nothing can or shall content my soul till I am evened with him, wife for wife. ” Iago will stop at nothing till he is “evened” with Othello and gets his revenge. “Gnaw my inwards” makes the audience realize that Iago has emotional feelings too. Iago is deeply hurt by this action and he too has morals and expectations from his spouse.

Expressing his feelings and emotions with a simile helps the reader see the story through his eyes. The next quote by Iago to Othello cautions Othello to not be jealous when really, Iago wants Othello to be jealous. “O, beware, my lord, of jealousy! / It is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock/ The meat it feeds on(3. 3. 166-7). ” The irony of Iago’s statement is almost humorous. The idea of Iago warning Othello of jealousy when really it is Iago who is jealous shows how twisted Iago is. Iago uses metaphors and imagery to give advice to Othello when really it is Iago who should be following that advice.

Calling jealousy a green-eyed monster that consumes its prey by taunting it “doth mock” Iago is describing himself in a way. He has been mocked by jealousy, and it has gnawed on him, making him a “monster”. Iago has been so corrupted that he probably doesn’t even realize the irony. He is like a child in this fashion. Only a monster would try to ruin the harmony, peace, and joy of others. Jealousy has definitely turned Iago into a monster and it is slowly swallowing Othello. As unpleasant emotions arise, people’s control of emotions become their biggest challenge.

One day its love, the next day its hatred. Jealousy can alter people’s perceptions of others, destroying relationships through Iago’s perception of Cassio and Othello’s perception of Desdemona. Because they are so jealous, they can only find the worst qualities in others. Iago gives the quotes that best exemplify the change in perceptions. “A fellow almost damned in a fair wife, that never set a squadron in the field” …”mere prattle without practice/ is all his soldiership (1. 1. 20-22, 25). ” Iago creates the worst description of Cassio.

He starts by saying that Cassio has never “truly” been out in the real world or had any real battles. He isn’t married, he is young, (using the word “fellow” to describe Cassio) and that Cassio had not experienced anything significant. He continues by saying Cassio has never been in any real battles; never lead any troops into a battle. If one were to only use Iago’s opinions of Cassio, one would think of Cassio as a young, weak, and boyish man. Iago’s uses of alliteration in prattle and practice to express his anger and show how juvenile Cassio is.

Othello’s perception of Desdemona has also been destroyed by jealousy. “Ay, you did wish that I would make her turn. /Sir, she can turn, and turn, and yet go on,/And turn again. And she can weep, sir, weep. /And she’s obedient, as you say, obedient,/Very obedient. Proceed you in your tears. /Concerning this, sir Oh, well-painted passion! /I am commanded home. Get you away,/I’ll send for you anon. Sir, I obey the mandate/And will return to Venice. Hence, avaunt! (4. 1. 246-251). ” Othello is in a jealous temperament and anything Desdemona says or does makes him angry.

He saw her as kind, gentile and fair before, and now he almost sees her as a puppet, for others to play and manipulate. It is a little ironic because he is the one being manipulated. Saying she will do anything anyone tells her to do through the lines “Sir, she can turn, and turn, and yet go on,/And turn again. And she can weep, sir, weep. /And she’s obedient, as you say, obedient(4. 1. 246-249). ” He borderlines being perverse by implying that Desdemona is so obedient that she would even sleep with her own cousin, or any other man if asked. Othello apparently sees Desdemona now as a weak, marionette that anyone can use.

When Desdemona cries, because she does not understand why Othello is angry, he persists that she is just putting a show on for everyone and that she knows exactly what she is doing. His kind nature has left him and his reasons for acting as such are worked by jealousy. Only the wrongs in people are noticed while the kindness and goodness is looked over. To want to kill, to kill, and then to kill oneself. Jealousy can lead to people doing destructive things, like killing one another. Its marks on Othello make him so crazy that he resorts to killing his wife, and then killing himself. Ay, let her rot and perish and be damned tonight, for she shall not live. No, my heart is turned to stone (IV. 1. 178-180). ” Othello has just seen his “proof” that Desdemona is unfaithful. He is too rash and starts making threats that cannot be undone, like killing his wife. His character is so quick to judge that he doesn’t even think about Desdemona’s character and how she would behave. He does not look deeper into the matter. Othello says this metaphor “my heart is turned to stone” expressing how quickly his character changed and how jealousy brings a toll to his life.

In the next speech Othello reflects on his actions and tells Lodovico and Gratiano what he wants to be remembered by. “Then must you speak/Of one that loved not wisely, but too well. /Of one not easily jealous, but being wrought,/Perplexed in the extreme. Of one whose hand,/Like the base Indian, threw a pearl away/Richer than all his tribe (5. 2. 343-348)”. He admits that he was irrational and that his emotions were too strong. “loved not wisely, but too well”, he got carried away too quickly by being in love, and was not fully thinking properly.

Once tricked into jealousy, he went berserk and threw away everything good in his life. Using the simile “Like the base Indian” him being a silly “savage” who wasn’t smart and “threw a pearl away” referring to killing Desdemona: a white, fair and rare woman. Reflecting on his actions with this simile and his new knowledge and realization of himself, he then kills himself. When one is tricked by jealousy, their actions are greatly altered leading them to kill loved ones and finally, leading to the self-destruction. Jealousy is a murderer that becomes a virus, killing everyone it touches.

Jealousy is a powerful force that can help or destroy humans through their emotions, their perceptions of others, and their actions. Jealousy sparked the new tablet computer from Microsoft today. It also got the people out of “the Dark Ages” and into the Renaissance, which in turn brought in writers like Shakespeare who undoubtedly emphasizes the harm in jealous feelings and emotions. By creating this drama Othello, jealousy destroys peoples emotions, perceptions of others, and actions, one is left conflicted to having pity on the characters, or to feel as if they got what they deserved and that they caused their own finales.


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