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Essay: Jealousy begins a vicious circle of revenge: Othello

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Whether or not people will admit it, most individuals have someone in their life that makes them feel unappreciated. How far would they go to avenge themself? William Shakespeare, the writer of the play Othello uses the antagonist as a vehicle to silently torture the man he wants to get back at. This sixteenth century based performance allows readers to take a closer look at the deep rooted trickery that was slowly taking its course resulting in the Moor’s own demise. In his play, Othello, Shakespeare uses manipulation, jealousy, and passion to result in the tragic ending of Othello and Desdemona.

Iago, the antagonist, is a frequent user of manipulation. By striking the enemies insecurities he has a straight shot at their heart. The antagonist begins to cause doubt by reminding Othello that, “She did deceive her father, marrying you” (Shakespeare 3, 3, 238). Iago’s true intentions were for Othello to remember Desdemona has forsaken others in the past, even her closest allies. Iago became a curmudgeon when he was betrayed by Othello. Instead of Othello realizing his intentions Iago plays off this statement by claiming he loves Othello so much. Being the reason behind him bringing up this event. This reassures Othello that Iago is in his best interest. This event just plays into Iago’s master plan of malice toward Othello. Othello gives Desdemona a handkerchief and it is seen as a symbol of their love until Iago plans to, “In Cassio’s lodging lose this napkin. And let him find it“ (Shakespeare 3, 3, 329). This is another one of Iago’s plans to manipulate Othello and erode his love. When Othello sees that Cassio, a hapless man who he suspects is cheating with his wife, has the handkerchief this will be proof of an affair between Cassio and Desdemona due to its symbol of their love. This part of Iago’s plan made their love become flaccid. All of Iago’s manipulation was in an attempt to make an utopia for himself. His sequence of plans worked and sparked jealousy that caused further damage to Othello’s trust.

Jealousy begins a vicious circle of revenge causing surly behavior. Rodrigo is envious of Othello because he wants to be with Desdemona, and throughout the play Othello builds up with jealousy due to Iago’s manipulation. Resulting in Othello believing that Dedemona is cheating on him. All of this jealousy results in Othello’s blindness to the truth. Iago plants the idea of a dishonest wife in Othello’s mind by telling him to, “Look at your wife; observe her well with Cassio” (Shakespeare 3, 3, 228). Iago is purposely trying to make Othello suspect something is up with Cassio. Iago is not afraid to broach this topic since this moment has been well thought out. Although Othello is only basing accusations off of circumstantial evidence his jealousy blinds him from the truth. Jealousy plays such a big part in Iago’s wily plan that he even warns Othello “of jealousy!/ It is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock / The meat it feeds on. That cuckold lives in bliss.” (Shakespeare 3, 3, 195-197). Iago uses reverse psychology when telling Othello to beware of jealousy. It was Iago’s gauche plan all along to make Othello fall into a trap of jealousy. The jealousy clouding Othello’s vision led to the tragic ending. While the passion Othello had for Desdemona was good he let it get out of his control and caused the reader to feel morose due to false accusations against Desdemona.

Passion is difficult to develop and tricky to control. Once passion develops it must be put into the correct situations. Passion should be like a Zephyr not a hurricane. Othello says to Montano, Iago, and Cassio “Now, by heaven,/ My blood begins my safer guides to rule/ And passion, having my best judgment collied,/ Assays to lead the way.” (Shakespeare 2, 3, 217-221). This is the start of his passion getting in the way of what is important, here his passion gets in the way of his work. Othello himself admits this. He realizes what was happening but it didn’t just stay with his work it spreads to his marriage soon after. Right before Othello smothers Desdemona she explains, “That death’s unnatural that kills for loving./ Alas, why gnaw you so your nether lip?/ Some bloody passion shakes your very frame./ These are portents, but yet I hope, I hope /They do not point on me.” (Shakespeare 5, 2, 51-55). This shows how much Othello cares for Desdemona. His passion for making their marriage truthful quash their love. His emotions are getting the best of him making him shake for rage, sorrow, and the urge to clamor his passion. Passion can be deadly and in the end Iago used his retentive memory to plan out a successful revenge. While it may not have been his original intentions he did get his way.

William Shakespeare uses manipulation, jealousy, and passion in his play Othello to scheme against Othello’s life. Iago uses manipulation to weaken Othello’s judgement. Everyone’s jealous clouded their clarity. Othello’s passion got in the way of making rational decisions. All resulting in Othello and Desdemona’s death.


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