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Shakespeare has an exceptional ability to compose plays full of deceit, trickery, murderous revenge, and jealousy. In Othello, one of his most recognized tragedies was consistently evolving around the central theme of jealousy. Jealousy in Othello is what the play was founded on. One of Shakespeare’s most credible characteristics in his writing is his ability to compose a play in which has a story that originates, and strides on lies. As theses lies were unraveled the central theme of his play became distinct, and clearly visible.
The central theme was based on the acts that characters had taken based on their jealous feelings. The flaws within all of the characters lied within their blindness to over look Iago’s lies. What made each character jealous, was what they perceived as the truth. What adds to this great tragedy is that it is a love story as well. In which a man, Othello, loves Desdemona excessively and passionately, however he loves her unwisely. Love consumes all those who take part in it, and in Othello’s case his flaws lie in his loving Desdemona so blindly.
It is for that single reason that Iago knows that such a naive man as Othello, who loves his wife so blindly and unrealistically, can be made to think whatever Iago wants Othello to believe. Just as Othello’s flaws lied within his inability to see past his jealous feelings, so did most of the rest of characters, no matter what social ranking they were classified in. Even from the well-developed characters, such as Othello, to the lesser figures, such as Roderigo, envy and lust were feelings all of Shakespeare’s characters were accountable of holding at one time or other in the play.
Within each of the characters in Othello was a level of jealousy, which Iago created by testing their pressure points for his benefit. In Act 1 Scene 1, Shakespeare opened up to his audience a level of jealousy that goes hand in hand with the feeling of greed. This scene being referred to is where Iago expressed his animosity for Othello. Iago was subconsciously telling the audience how jealous he was about Cassio’s promotion. And at the same time Roderigo blatantly expressed his jealousy for Desdemona’s love for Othello.
These two are the most common types of jealousy and envy that we know and express. “O sir content you. I follow him to serve my turn upon him?. “(lines38-39) “It is as sure as you are Roderigo, Where I the Moor, I would not be Iago. In following him, I follow but myself. Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty, But seeming so, for my perculiar end; For when my outward action doth demonstrate The native act and figure of my heart In complient extern, tis not long after But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
For daws peck at; I am not what I am. ” (lines53-62) Which brings us to who Iago is in this play. Iago, being the cause of this tragedy, is an intricate and complex character, who unraveled the play with his lies. However a person must keep in mind that the direction of Iago’s jealousy was not only against sexual love, but against love itself in all manifestations. Iago, being the villain of this tragedy, appeared to have a desire to reach out and destroy the loving, as well as the good in everything.
For example, after he unsuccessfully tried to enrage Barbantio with Othello and Desdemona’s secret, he began the endless web of lies. As a result of all of Iago’s lies, each character wound up having a false feeling of jealousy. This “false feeling” can be better explained in Emilia’s response to Desdemona’s cries: “But jealous souls will not be answer’d so; They are not ever jealous for the cause, But jealous for they are jealous: tis’ a monster Begot upon itself, born on itself. ” (III iv 159-62)
False feelings are, according to Emilia, when the soul is tempted by the appearance of a particular situation enraging the person into committing vial and unethical acts which do not match up with their personality. Reasons for these unethical acts are most often because the person is being misled on information or they are misjudging reality. Jealousy is a manifest, according to D. R. Godfrey, one of several Shakespearean critics. From the moment jealousy started Godfrey states, that characters such as Othello, Roderigo, and Iago divorce themselves from rationality.
He later went on to say that “jealousy once awakened, becomes self perpetuating, self intensifying, and where no justifying evidence for it exists, the jealous person under the impulse of an extraordinary perversity will continue to manufacture it, inventing causes, converting airy trifles into “confirmations strong as proofs of holy writ,” [OthelloIII. iii. 323-324]. In other words, he concluded that any attempt to interpret jealousy rationally, to look for logic in the mental process of a jealous person, will be “unavailing”, for we will be dealing invariably and in at least some measure with a “monster”, form of possession, an insanity. Godfrey D. R. ,Shakespeare for Students pp. 418) Any one who interacted with Iago fell under a false feeling. In Othello’s case his false feelings grew to such a degree that it changed him as a person entirely. From Act I through Act IV the audience watched Othello drastically change into two different characters whom are quite opposites. The question of how a well-respected officer such as Othello, who was madly in love with his fair lady could viciously plan and successfully murder his love within 3-4 days, is answeredin one word, jealousy.
The Othello madly in love with Desdemona was displayed in Act I scene 3 when Othello said: “My life upon her faith Honest Iago, My Desdemona I must leave to thee. I prithee let thy wife attend on her, And bring them after in the best advantage. Come, Desdemona. I have but an hour Of love, of wordly matter and direction To spend with thee. We must obey the time. ” Not only does this quote support the fact that Othello was madly in love with his wife, but it also supports the fact that he was also under Iago’s influence.
Which at that time was an influence of presenting himself as honest. This being untrue, made Iago’s plan all the while easier to put into action. Specifically what made Iago’s plan flow progressively was that the lies that he presented toward each character was aimed towards their weak sensitive areas, which I later referred to as points. In Othello’s case, his weak spot was Desdemona. And he proved this by projecting a soliloquy filled with doubt after hearing the thought of Desdemona loving another man. This oliloquy gave the audience the impression that his faith in Desdemona had been undermined. This was the point in which doubt had entered his body, and shortly turned into jealousy. Iago’s presence tended to “mask” the insanity of Othello, and presented him as a man reacting logically in the face of accumulating evidence. Godfrey explained this best when he said that “the insane grip of jealousy is such that Othello can no longer doubt his wife’s guilt, but he can act against it finally only by assuming the mask of impersonal justice. The corruption of Othello’s mind will inevitably be the cause of his downfall, and will change him entirely. This new Othello, which Iago has created is seen in Act IV scene 1 when Othello states: “Ay let her rot, and perish, and be damned tonight; for she shall not live. No, my heart is turned to stone; I strike it, and it hurts my hand. O, the world hath not made a sweeter creature! She might lie by an emperor’s side and command him tasks. (line 183-187) Othello later goes on to say: “I will chop her into little messes!
Cuckhold me! ” (line202) “Get some poison, Iago, this night. I’ll not expostulate with her,lest her body and beauty un- provide my mind agai. This night, Iago! ” (line206-208) Both quotes show Othello’s eager intent to seek revenge, in the most gruesome way possible. All through Iago’s manipulation to distort reality, is an intricate way to cause the vengeful Othello to take total control of the trustworthy, reliable, and faithful officer as well as husband named Othello Othello is a tragedy of numerous dimensions.
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The most dominant issues in Shakespeare’s Othello are evil and jealousy. From these two dominant issues, it can be said that with the act of evil, beyond it to some degree, envy or jealousy can be held responsible. Jealousy of course is harming to oneself and most times is irrational. Demonstrating once again the “intrinsic instability of evil, the ultimate impotence of the jealous gods. ” (Godfrey D. R. , Shakespeare for Students, pp. 422)
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