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Iago's Jealousy In Othello Essay

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Jealousy has been around since the beginning of time. It starts when you are born. Jealousy comes from insecurity, bitterness and obsessive caring. It also comes from wanting something that belongs to someone else or wanting someone who is in a relationship with another person. Most of us have experienced jealousy at some point in our lives in some way or another. All jealousy is not negative. Jealousy that is kept at a minimum can help an individual’s life balance things in keeping things in perspective, on the other hand out of control jealousy can be harmful and dangerous.

Jealousy takes many forms and when kept at a minimum it is harmless while other times it can be destructive. In William, Shakespeare’s play “Othello” there is a man named Iago who hates and is jealous of the protagonist Othello because Otello chose someone else instead of Iago to promote to position of Lieutenant, so Iago decides to try and kill Othello. This is all because he is jealous and angry that he wasn’t chosen as the one who got the promotion. He used his anger and decided to get revenge because he felt like he was stolen from the promotion and wasn’t getting the credit he deserved. First, he convinces Roderigo to help him because Roderigo is in love with Othello’s wife Desdemona and Iago promises Roderigo that he can get him together with Desdemona if he helps him. With Roderigo helping Iago, Iago is able to plot a series of events which eventually leads to convincing Othello that his wife Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio, this not only causes conflict in their marriage but this causes Othello’s desire to kill Cassio. Jealousy caused Iago to do all this and this is shown when Iago says “Oh, beware, my lord, of jealousy! It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on Act 3 Scene 3. Iago is really saying ‘I hope you become jealous and kill your wife, because that would, ironically, fulfill all my plans.” a lot of the power behind this quote lies in the fact that Iago is being very ironic here. We know he’s malicious and nasty. We have heard of his plan to take down Othello. And we even know how he’s going to do it. But Othello doesn’t know any of that. In actuality, he thinks Iago is just the best guy he’s ever met. This relates back to the thesis as everything that Iago does is because of his jealousy and anger, this is a very good example of how out of control jealousy is harmful and destructive.

Furthermore, jealousy can be seen throughout Othello, in this passage “Trifles light as air Are to the jealous confirmations strong As proofs of holy writ.” Iago delivers these lines in a short soliloquy where he tells the audience of his plan to plant Desdemona’s handkerchief in Cassio’s room. Here, the handkerchief being the “trifle light as air.” In itself the handkerchief represents nothing. However, knowing that Othello’s jealousy has already heightened, Iago predicts that he will overestimate the handkerchief’s significance, taking it as a “proof of holy writ” all this planning of Iago is coming from the jealousy and the anger that he has inside of him since he was not chosen to be promoted to aid Othello by his side. Another passage showing jealousy in “Othello” is “But jealous souls will not be answered so. They are not ever jealous for the cause, But jealous for they’re jealous. It is a monster Begot upon itself, born on itself.” This quote is when Emilia says these words to Desdemona in an attempt to explain the irrational nature of jealousy. Even though jealousy comes to people with their own specific reasons, jealousy has no cause but itself. Emilia suggests that the logic of it is as a monster that gives birth to itself. Emilia recalls Iago’s “ green-eyed monster”. She also recalls the ancient symbol of the ouroboros, which is a snake that is swallowing its own tail and therefore stuck in a loop. This foreshadows that Iago’s plan will backfire on himself in the future, this also tells us that when someone is really jealous they will do anything till they get what they want no matter what, till they are satisfied with the result. This relates back to the thesis as jealousy that is not controlled can be destructive, here we see it is destroying Iago’s mindset slowly till his plan backfires on to himself. As the snake swallowing its own tail, here Iago is destroying his own life and reputation.

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To add on, Roderigo can also be seen showing major jealousness in “Othello”. Roderigo is helping Iago with his plan to kill Othello not because he wants to help Iago with his plan, because of his own reasons that he is in love with Othello’s wife Desdemona. This is all because after seeing Desdemona marrying a black man this fuels Roderigo with jealousy. This is the sole reason that convinced him to help Iago with this plan to try and get rid of Othello in an attempt to win over Desdemona. He first helps Iago telling Brabantio that his daughter had a secret marriage with a black man as they wake him up one night by saying “What, ho, Brabantio! Signior Brabantio, ho!”. He then helps Iago by starting a fight with Cassio wounding another man, as a result Othello had no other option but to demote Cassio. Roderigo jealousy is heightened when Iago tells him if he kills Cassio, Desdemona will sleep with him, Roderigo’s jealousy is very clear as he actually plans to go kill Cassio, his attempt obviously fails, as Cassio is wounded Iago stabs Roderigo in the back and it leads to Roderigo’s death. This whole scene shows that several characters did what they did because of jealousy, jealous of their reasons caused someone to die, a broken marriage and ruined one’s reputation. This relates to the thesis as jealousy can control people’s thoughts and actions when it is not controlled.

In conclusion, jealousy can motivate people to do such things they wouldn’t do when not jealous of something or someone. It cant get to your head and it can take over and take control of you as a person making you believe what you want to believe without looking at the reasons or even attempting to look at it from another perspective.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is Iago Jealous Of Othello?

Iago jealous of Othello, because Otello chose Cassio instead of Iago to promote to position of Lieutenant, so Iago decides to try and kill Othello.

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Iago’s Jealousy In Othello Essay. (2021, September 02). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/iagos-manipulation-of-jealousy-in-othello/
“Iago’s Jealousy In Othello Essay.” Edubirdie, 02 Sept. 2021, edubirdie.com/examples/iagos-manipulation-of-jealousy-in-othello/
Iago’s Jealousy In Othello Essay. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/iagos-manipulation-of-jealousy-in-othello/> [Accessed 8 Feb. 2023].
Iago’s Jealousy In Othello Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Sept 02 [cited 2023 Feb 8]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/iagos-manipulation-of-jealousy-in-othello/
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