The following review example can serve as a guide for students trying to find inspiration when writing an assignment on “Othello”.

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In “Othello,” William Shakespeare masterfully portrays emotion as a fundamental flaw, illustrating how it can lead to manipulation and loss of rationality. This concept is particularly evident in the play’s exploration of jealousy, a potent emotion driving the narrative’s central conflicts.

In this article we will try to unravel the complex layers of Iago’s jealousy, a pivotal element that sets the tragic events in motion. From the beginning, Iago is depicted as a character consumed by envy. His initial grievances stem from professional disappointment, feeling overlooked for a promotion in favor of Cassio. However, his jealousy extends far deeper, encompassing personal vendettas and unverified suspicions. Iago’s obsession with the mere possibility of Othello’s infidelity with Emilia highlights his tendency to let suspicion fuel his actions. His intense jealousy, needing no concrete proof, drives him to inflict psychological torture on Othello. Through cunning manipulation, Iago ensures Othello experiences the same torment of jealousy, thereby amplifying his own suffering. This introduction aims to dissect the roots and ramifications of Iago’s envy, offering insights into how jealousy operates as both a weapon and a curse in Shakespeare’s timeless tragedy.

Why is Iago jealous of Othello?

At the heart of “Othello” lies Iago’s multifaceted jealousy, which is far more intricate than mere professional envy. His animosity towards Othello begins with his anger over Cassio’s promotion, a position he believed he deserved. This professional slight, however, is only the surface of Iago’s deep-seated resentment. His jealousy extends into the personal realm, fueled by rumors of Othello’s involvement with his wife, Emilia, and his lust for Desdemona. Iago’s envy is further compounded by his perception of Othello’s racial and social background. Despite recognizing Othello’s military prowess, Iago cannot accept the Moor’s elevated status, which he sees as unmerited and threatening to his sense of racial and social superiority.

“And what was he?

Forsooth, a great arithmetician,

One Michael Cassio, a Florentine,

A fellow almost damn’d in a fair wife;

That never set a squadron in the field,

Nor the division of a battle knows

More than a spinster; unless the bookish theoric,

Wherein the toged consuls can propose

As masterly as he: mere prattle, without practise,

Is all his soldiership.”

Iago’s cunning manipulation of Othello’s insecurities is a testament to his understanding of jealousy’s destructive power. He insidiously plants doubts about Desdemona’s fidelity, preying on Othello’s fear of betrayal. The metaphor of jealousy as a “green-eyed monster” aptly describes the insidious nature of this emotion, which Iago expertly exploits. The handkerchief, a symbol of Othello and Desdemona’s love, becomes a pivotal tool in Iago’s scheme. Its placement in Cassio’s possession not only convinces Othello of Desdemona’s infidelity but also signifies the loss of trust and love in their relationship.

“O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;

It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock

The meat it feeds on; that cuckold lives in bliss

Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger;

But, O, what damned minutes tells he o’er

Who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves!”

Roderigo’s role, though less central, is no less significant in the narrative of jealousy. His infatuation with Desdemona blinds him to Iago’s manipulations, making him a pawn in the larger game of deception and revenge. Roderigo’s unrequited love for Desdemona and his reliance on Iago’s machinations highlight the vulnerability and irrationality often associated with romantic jealousy.

The destructive force of jealousy is not confined to the male characters. Bianca’s character, though minor, adds another dimension to the theme of jealousy in the play. Her love for Cassio, met with indifference and false promises, mirrors the unbalanced relationships and unfulfilled desires that permeate the narrative. Bianca’s jealousy, though less pronounced, contributes to the tragic unraveling of events, demonstrating how jealousy can influence even the most peripheral characters.

“Let the devil and his dam haunt you! What did you

mean by that same handkerchief you gave me even now?

I was a fine fool to take it. I must take out the

work?–A likely piece of work, that you should find

it in your chamber, and not know who left it there!

This is some minx’s token, and I must take out the

work? There; give it your hobby-horse: wheresoever

you had it, I’ll take out no work on’t”

The interplay of jealousy among Othello, Iago, Roderigo, and Bianca demonstrates its pervasive influence on the characters’ actions and relationships. From professional envy to romantic jealousy, each instance contributes to the escalation of the play’s tragic events. The handkerchief, a seemingly insignificant object, becomes a symbol of lost love and trust, and ultimately, a catalyst for the tragic demise of Othello and Desdemona.

Examples of jealousy in Othello 🎭

CharacterType of JealousyDescription
IagoProfessional and PersonalEnvious of Cassio for receiving the promotion he wanted and harbors secret desires for Desdemona. Believes, without evidence, that Othello has been involved with his wife, Emilia.
RoderigoRomanticIn love with Desdemona and jealous of her relationship with Othello. Utilizes Iago’s help in a misguided attempt to win her affection, unaware of Iago’s manipulation.
OthelloRomantic and TrustSuspects Desdemona’s infidelity, largely due to Iago’s deceitful insinuations. His jealousy intensifies with the contrived evidence of the handkerchief in Cassio’s possession.
BiancaRomanticA prostitute in love with Cassio, feeling jealous and neglected due to his lack of commitment and sincerity. Her discovery of the handkerchief and subsequent reaction contribute to the plot’s climax.

In conclusion, “Othello” masterfully showcases the destructive and multifaceted nature of jealousy. It is not just a personal emotion but a force that shapes destinies, manipulates relationships, and drives individuals to extreme actions. Through the characters of Iago, Othello, Roderigo, and Bianca, Shakespeare explores the various dimensions of jealousy, from its roots in insecurity and fear to its devastating consequences. The play serves as a timeless reminder of the power of emotions to dictate human behavior and alter the course of lives.

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