July 4, 2018 General Studies

Jealousy Shakespeare’s Othello portrays the effect of emotions. Throughout the play love and jealousy are the most prominent emotions. The characters’ emotions lead them into making the decisions that make this play a tragedy. Although some may argue love is the most important emotion in Othello, nevertheless jealousy truly is because it makes Othello and Iago make awful decisions. On one hand, some people might say love is the most important emotion in Othello because Iago’s motive for his plan is his love for Desdemona, and Roderigo attacks Cassio because of his love for Desdemona.

Roderigo is blindly in love with Desdemona and will do anything to woo her. Iago is able to convince him that “by making him uncapable of Othello’s place,” he will have a greater chance to court Desdemona (4. 2. 262-263). Roderigo’s intense emotions towards Desdemona allow him to be easily manipulated. His love for Desdemona blinds him from what is right and what is wrong. Iago comes up with a plan to kill Othello because he does “love her too” (2. 1. 313). His love for Desdemona proves strong enough for him to kill his superior.

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Iago and Roderigo are both prime examples of how the emotion of love can make someone act irrational although love is not the emotion that motivates the play’s action. On the other hand, jealousy is the most important emotion in Othello; it provokes Iago to make rash decisions. Iago is so paranoid “that [he does] suspect the lusty Moor hath leaped into [his] seat” (2. 1. 318). Iago has no reason to think Emilia is unfaithful, but he wishes to put Othello “into jealousy so strong that judgment cannot cure” because of his suspicion (2. 1. 23-324). His distrust leads him to disrespect his general, and cause complications throughout the play. Iago involves Cassio in his plot to “abuse him to the Moor in the rank garb” (2. 1. 328) Iago wants to exploit Cassio in the eyes of Othello to acquire his position of lieutenant. Iago’s desire to be lieutenant overrules his reasoning from right and wrong. It is not right of him to attack Cassio just because he hungers for his status; neither is it right for him to suspect his wife to be disloyal, but his jealousy gets the best of him.

Iago confesses: “it is my nature’s plague to spy into abuses, and oft my jealousy” (3. 3. 172-173). He even knows that he is prone to committing devious acts due to jealousy, and still acts upon it. Similar to Iago, Jealousy drives Othello to both suspect his wife of adultery, as well as to murder her. Iago worries Othello into thinking that Desdemona has given away his handkerchief. So much that as soon as she says she does not have it, he tells her: “Give’t away were such perdition” (3. . 78). Othello starts to throw accusations without even stopping to think that she may have misplaced the simple prop. Due to Othello’s extreme state of envy, Desdemona losing the handkerchief is enough proof to him that she is in fact sleeping with Cassio. Iago’s devious tricks make Othello so jealous he cannot be turned back. Even after Iago warns him: “O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock,” Othello still cannot control himself (3. 3. 195-196).

Even as Iago, the source of all of Othello’s jealousy, tells Othello to be aware of the strength of jealousy, Othello still disregards his advice. Jealousy is the motive for the tragic events throughout the play. Mainly it pushes Othello and Iago to make unjust decisions. Like Medea in Medea, they both seek revenge because their loved ones have betrayed them. As well they both take it too far, and hurt everyone around them. Their motives were not from love or grief, but purely from jealousy. Othello shows how emotions, such as jealousy and love, can and will poorly affect someone’s decision making.


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