Influences of the time period – Shakespeare’s Othello & Morrison’s The Bluest Eye

Shakespeare has been greatly influenced by the time period he wrote Othello in when observing the roles of racism and white beauty standards in the play. The protagonist of the play, Othello, is a general in the defence forces of Venice, husband of the fair Desdemona and a man of North African descent. While it … Read more

Setting in literature – A&P (Updike), Titanic (Slavitt) and Othello

Setting is one of the most important elements used in every literature genre. Setting includes location, point in time, and the social environment that frames the characters. This could greatly impact things in a story such as tone, theme, and atmosphere something as simple as a different time period could dramatically change the way the … Read more

Was Desdemona made to stand up to the mistreatment of women at the time?

Introduction: Throughout history, the mistreatment of women for arbitrary reasons has been well documented. During the Elizabethan period, women were severely abused and were considered far inferior to men. However, William Shakespeare’s play “Othello” presents a contradiction to the commonality of the time. My hypothesis is that the character of Desdemona was illustrated by Shakespeare … Read more

How minor characters are used by Shakespeare to portray a message

Shakespeare uses his perspective on situations, e.g. the way minor characters are used in Romeo & Juliet and Othello to illustrate the way in which these characters behave and what role they have on the play overall and how Shakespeare has used them to portray a message. This essay will focus on comparing the different … Read more

Tess of the d’Urbervilles / The Ruined Maid / Othello

Written in 1866, The Ruined Maid had been written rather early into Hardy’s writing career, creating an insinuation to modern readers of his advanced views on women as he forces his contemporary readers to reconsider conventional values regarding female chastity. This had also been written 10 years after Hardy witnessed the hanging of Martha Brown, … Read more

Othello – themes of love and death, conflicting characteristics

In this essay through close reading I will discuss the importance of the scene in relation to the characters and main themes explored in the play whilst investigating how the play text can be turned into actions by the actor, analysing the language for cues on performance. Othello is a domestic tragedy based around the … Read more

Jealousy begins a vicious circle of revenge: Othello

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 … Read more

About Othello

Human emotions can have a very powerful impact on an individual’s life. One emotion can simply break or gain a relationship with the people around them. It can also change a person’s future drastically from them choosing to have a different perspective in life. In the novel, Shakespeare seems to suggest that jealousy is the most destructive human emotion. Shakespeare shows how painful the act of jealousy can be by expressing it through violence, how it affects not just the jealous person to everyone around them and brings out one’s unfiltered true self.

In Othello, many characters show the emotion of jealousy towards each other which can lead to negative outcomes. However, jealousy doesn’t only affect the jealous person but everyone around them. People are blinded by jealousy so they do things that they know are wrong. An example is Roderigo’s love for Desdemona.

“I have no great devotion to the deed… ’Tis but a man gone. Forth my sword! He dies!” (V.i.8-10).

This quotation is said by Roderigo as it shows that Roderigo knows what he is doing is wrong but still proceeds to do so because he is blinded by jealousy. Jealousy convinces him that even though it is wrong, it is somehow all right.

Roderigo is jealous of Cassio because of Desdemona and Iago persuades him that if he kills Cassio, it is the only chance he can get to be with her. This leads to Cassio getting hurt as well as Roderigo himself. Along with people being blinded by jealousy, jealousy can tend to make people desperate so they involve others in their problems. As Iago begins to feel jealous of Cassio for getting the job he wanted, he starts to become desperate in wanting revenge on Othello which Iago involves many people who have nothing to do with it.

“After some time, to abuse Othello’s ear… To be suspected, fram’d to make women false” (I.i.386-389).

In this quotation, it is Iago briefly explaining the plan to himself in how he is going to use Cassio to make Othello jealous. This is Iago being desperate to get revenge on Othello and involving others such as Roderigo and Cassio into Iago’s problems when they did not do anything. By Iago involving others into his problems, they end up getting hurt. As people are getting involved, innocent people are getting hurt. Iago’s wife Emilia, truly loves her husband and is loyal to him.

“If it be not for some purpose of import… When she shall lack it” (III.iii.318-320).

This quote shows Emilia’s loyalty to Desdemona because they are close friends but also shows her love and loyalty in her husband even more since she still ends up giving the handkerchief to him. Emilia is completely innocent and she did not think there was any harm to it and she just wanted to help her husband because she loves him. This shows how innocent people get hurt from jealousy because this led to her death as Iago kills her due to her finding out that he had told Othello that Desdemona was “cheating” from his plan that started from his jealous feelings. Moreover, the act of jealousy does not just harm the person affected but also the ones around them.

As relationships between others get tense, it can get physical. From being jealous of others, it can make people act out into violence. Othello’s emotions lead to Desdemona’s death and also his own.

“By heaven, I saw my handkerchief in’s hand… A murder, which I thought a sacrifice. I saw the handkerchief” (V.ii.62-65).

This is Othello’s words as it is the moment before Othello suffocates Desdemona. He keeps repeating that he saw the handkerchief in Cassio’s hand which means a lot to him even after Desdemona tries to explain to him that she never gave it to him. This shows that Othello is so clouded by jealousy and he cannot see to trust his wife and as it all builds up, he turns to violence leading to her death. As Othello kills his one true love, he starts to realize she was not lying and that she is all he has and he kills himself. As for wives, Iago also turns to violence towards his wife.

“She give it Cassio! No, alas, I found it… Filth thou liest!” (V.ii.229-231).

In these lines, Emilia starts exposing Iago to Othello and Iago is denying it. This is moments before Iago murders her due to her telling Othello the truth. As this was the outcome from reckless thoughts and actions of jealousy that turned into violence. Apart from violence between relationships, there is also violence between friendships. Iago tells Roderigo to kill Cassio and two people get hurt in the process.

“I have rubb’d this young quat almost to the sense… No, he must die. But soft, I hear him coming” (V.i.11-22).

In this quote, it is Iago thinking out the plan in his head on killing Roderigo. Iago had told Roderigo to kill Cassio because that would be the only way he could be with Desdemona while Iago is manipulating him for his plan which both situations are fueled by jealousy. The result of this is violence from Roderigo wounding Cassio and Iago murdering Roderigo.

As the act of jealousy is present many times throughout the play, we get to see the characters’ real personalities unfold more and more. Jealousy brings out the characters’ unfiltered true self. This emotion shows how insecure and self-conscious Othello truly is.

“To prey at fortune. Haply for I am black…Into the vale of years—yet that’s not much—” (III.iii.265-268).

These lines are part of Othello’s thoughts when he finds out that Desdemona is “cheating” on him. The first thing that Othello thinks about is his skin color and age for being part of the reason he is being cheated on. We see Othello as a strong, brave and confident leader on the outside, however on the inside as he faces jealousy, he starts to unravel his true self and we start to see an insecure man who feels like an outsider. Cassio also feels the pressure of jealousy as we begin to see his desperate and shameful side.

“That policy may either last so long… My general will forget my love and service” (III.iii.14-18).

In this quotation we see Cassio begging Desdemona to help him get back Othello’s trust after his shameful incident. Iago’s act of jealousy reveals a different side of Cassio that we would never expect as we see him as a confident man who is good with the ladies and has a good reputation for being loyal and trustworthy. This reputation is ruined as Iago manipulated him to getting drunk and making careless decisions. Othello fires him for getting drunk instead of doing his job, leading him to shamelessly begging Desdemona for help. As for seeing different sides of characters, Iago also shows two personalities throughout the play.

“I’m glad of this; for now I shall have reason… Is not to leave’t undone, but keep’t unknown” (III.iii.195-206).

This is one of the many quotes when Iago is being manipulative and expressing his two-faced personality. The characters see Iago as very trustworthy as they call him “honest Iago.” As the act of jealousy comes into play, the audience can see Iago’s true manipulative and selfish side as he uses his reputation as a cover of who he truly is in the play. This quote shows how Iago is putting up an act to pretend to be caring and sympathetic to Othello by telling him his wife is cheating on him and giving him advice on how to handle the situation. Meanwhile, the audience knows what he is doing which is part of his master plan into manipulating anyone who has he feels, wronged him. However, the rest of the characters that are left, do start to see his true colors.

In conclusion, the act of jealousy can be one of the most dangerous and devastating emotions a human can experience. Shakespeare demonstrates that by showing how it can hurt the ones around you, creating violence, and revealing one’s true self. Jealousy may be the main reason most of the characters had a tragic ending, but most of the situations could have simply been resolved if they communicated with each other and trusted the right people.


Self interest in Othello

Self-interest plays a large role throughout the play of Othello. The majority of characters show self-interest in their actions and thoughts they partake in during the play. Self-interest also has a hand in their eventual downfall of some of the characters. Self-interest led to the downfall of Iago, Roderigo and Emilia.

Iago is a deceitful and manipulative person during Othello. He expresses self-interest by lying for his own good. He says phrases like “I am not what i am” (I.1, 65). Iago is jealous that Othello promotes Cassio instead of him. Iago also believes that Othello slept with his wife Emilia. After coming to that conclusion, Iago explains his lust for Desdemona because he wants to get even with Othello. Iago’s downfall occurs when he murders his own wife Emilia. In front of everyone, Iago proclaims “your reports have set the murder on” (5.2.184). Iago believes that he doesn’t need any women in his life and only cares about what happens to himself. He also persuades Roderigo into helping him murder Cassio after stating that he would be another target for Desdemona. Iago explains to Roderigo “It makes us or it mars us, think of that, / And fix most firm thy resolution” (4-50). He is making sure that Roderigo, Cassio and Desdemona are dead so that he can have his revenge on Othello. He manipulates everyone for his own benefit and shows only self-interest. He cares for no other person. His downfall does not result in his death as he is captured by Othello’s men.

Roderigo is a suitor who is jealous of Othello because of his attraction to Desdemona. He is very persuadable as Iago asks him for money and proceeds to give it to him without seeing any monetary value in return. Iago convinces him that if he gives him all of his money, he will be able to win Desdemona from Othello. Roderigo is ultimately desperate enough to agree to help Iago kill Cassio after Iago points out that Cassio is another potential rival for Desdemona. ”How do you mean, removing of him?” (IV,2,2999) Roderigo asks Iago.Roderigo ambushes Cassio but is unsuccessful in killing him and is wounded. Roderigo’s self-interest and also lack of intelligence led to his downfall. He believed that he could get away with the murder of Cassio. Roderigo’s downfall comes at the hand of Iago as he is “backstabbed” by his wingman. As he is stabbed he proclaims “O damn’d Iago! O inhuman dog!” (V,1,3215). Roderigo is not smart enough to realize what Iago is doing to him and is too wrapped up in trying to get Desdemona for his own self-interest.

Emilia is the wife of Iago. Emilia gets caught in the middle of her husband’s actions but that doesn’t stop her from standing up for herself. However, as the action progresses, Emilia reveals a sharp-eyed and self-aware perspective on how women are often vulnerable to abuse at the hands of their husbands. She tells Desdemona that “they eat us hungerly, and when they are full / They belch us” (3.4.). As she realizes the role her husband has played in the planning of Desdemona’s death, Emilia insists on exposing Iago’s plot, saying in front of everyone that “your reports have set the murder on” (5.2.184). Iago repeatedly threatens her to keep her mouth shut but Emilia states “I will speak as liberal as the north” (5.2.). Emilia’s downfall occurs at the hands of her husband Iago. He stabs her in the back in an action of desperation. She believes most men are foolish, wicked, or perverse, and nothing she experiences during the course of the play disproves that assessment. Emilia showed signs of self-interest by hoping that her final bravery will redeem her previous silence and obedience.

Throughout the play, Othello, the majority of the characters are only doing things that benefit themselves. Whether it was the main character Othello or a minor character like Emilia, most of them were very arrogant. Self-interest led to the downfall of Iago, Roderigo and Emilia.