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Othello Jealousy Essay

William Shakespeare has written many prominent plays that were centred on a specific emotion that propelled the play forward and moved the story along. From Romeo and Juliet’s love to Hamlet’s bitter anger and hate, Shakespeare and proven to be one of the greatest story writers of his time, and many times using his ability to play with emotions. Shakespeare’s 1603-04 play Othello drove on the passion of jealousy; this emotion was the essence of the entire story and is largely based on it. It initially placed the readers into a specific atmosphere, built character, unveiling the true side to various people in the script, and created the conflict of the entire play.

Firstly, the atmosphere of the play is created due to this emotion of jealousy. This aspect of stories is important because it places the readers (or viewers of the play) in a direct relationship with the events unfolding. Since the atmosphere is in a parallel with the emotions felt by the characters, it is only natural that the centre emotion felt by most of the people in the story, jealousy, is the main contributor to this atmosphere. Readers and viewers of Othello feel a mood of suspicion, bitterness, and forced to feel surrounded by a cloud of hate. “I hate the Moor / And it is thought abroad that twixt my sheets”. The character, Iago, is quoted here claiming his hatred for Othello because he suspects that he had been sleeping with his wife, in the first act.

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The atmosphere fails to ever change throughout the entire play. It begins with Iago going through a jealous rage that General Othello did not give him the position of lieutenant, were in fact, he believes he deserved the spot. It sets the tone for the entire play, causing the viewers and readers to feel in an uncomfortable state, and this atmosphere never lets down. This atmosphere, however, is quite fitting for the plot of the play. A man engulfed in such rage that he cannot tame, forces him to irrationally and eventually hurts those he loves. The purpose of Othello is to portray a tragedy, and the atmosphere parallels this purpose, driven by the emotion of jealousy introduced in this story.

Secondly, jealousy truly built characterization in this script and unveiled the true personalities of each individual character undergoing this emotion. In certain cases such as Iago and Roderigo, jealousy was a part of who they were and this was evident from the beginning of the play. However, jealousy also unveiled the type of person a specific character was when the audience believed they had the character all figured out. Othello was initially viewed as a generous, often mistaken Moor, who only truly had a love for his wife, despite the disbelief others had in the judgment of him. Iago’s plan was to entertain thoughts of doubt against Othello towards his wife and causing him to believe that she was having an affair with his lieutenant, Michael Cassio. Othello, being na�ve and trusting in Iago, faces an uncontrollable jealousy rage that leads him to lose all common sense and judgment.

Othello eventually kills his wife, unable to control this “Green-eyed monster” in jealousy, and ultimately regrets his actions. What is evident throughout his entire jealous rage, however, is that Othello was not the calm, gentle, loving person he appeared to be. But rather that he had always lived with this “beast” inside of him, only calmed down due to his status in Venice. This is clear because when he goes on to kill Desdemona, he once again appears to be the sweet, gentle, loving man, not engulfed in jealousy, but still murders his wife. Iago was able to unleash this beast within Othello to go ahead with his evil deeds. This jealousy shows that Othello was only a wild, destructive man, living in a world where he was forced to tame himself.

Lastly, jealousy was what really opened up the different areas of conflict within the play. Every story needs conflict; it creates action and draws the audience into the story, rather than repel them away. In the case of Othello, jealousy brought about conflict, it created the situation and also presented the action that this story required. Jealousy brought conflict upon even minor characters such as Roderigo. His jealousy of Othello, that this Moor had been married to the beautiful Desdemona, whom he loved, caused him to act foolishly and without correct judgment. He gave up control of his own life and threw it into the hands of Iago, one who was only plotting evil. Throughout the entire first act, it is evident that Roderigo has placed his trust in Iago to make sure that Desdemona would surely fall in love with him.

But it is also clear that Iago has other plans for Roderigo, and decides to manipulate him into doing his own selfish deeds. In the final act, the first scene, due to Iago’s twisted plans, Roderigo goes ahead and fights Cassio. As both of them fall, Iago takes advantage of this situation and kills Roderigo to make it appear as if he was murdered for the purpose to silence him. His plan fell through perfectly, in which the purpose was to act on his hatred for Michael Cassio. It is evident that jealousy even brought about the conflict to minor characters, such as Roderigo, whom the audience does not learn too much about.

Other than this, jealousy creates other conflicts such as Othello fighting with himself and trying to contain his jealousy, Othello with Desdemona, and Iago against Othello. Overall, it is evident that in the play Othello, jealousy is a vital element that William Shakespeare uses to propel the play and move it along forward. Single-handedly, it creates the atmosphere, characterization, conflict, and therefore, action and different situations. To a large extent, this play depends on this emotion to move the story along and create the situations that this story plays off of to make a widely successful tragedy.

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Othello Jealousy Essay. (2021, Apr 15). Retrieved May 9, 2021, from