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The Depiction of Jealousy in Othello: Critical Analysis

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Written by William Shakespeare opens in Venice shortly after newly elected general, Othello, marries the Senator’s daughter, Desdemona. A well-respected Florentine, Micheal Cassio, receives the lieutenant position while a jealous and arrogant flag-bearer, Iago, does not. A wealthy gentleman from Venice named Roderigo unconvincingly woos Desdemona, so Iago uses Roderigo as his pawn to ultimately get the promotion he wants. Although the cause of jealousy alters throughout the novel, the servant of Desdemona, Emilia, and Iago’s perception of jealousy compares to monsters and poison. Clearly, the author also endorses another view of jealousy as occurring from nothing but itself. Shakespeare depicts romantic and professional jealousy as monstrous, poisonous, and self-generating.

Shakespeare compares jealousy to its malignity by comparing it to a monster. When talking to Othello, Iago refers to jealousy as a “(Shakespeare 3.3.195). This perception of jealousy as monstrous is portrayed by Iago while convincing Othello that he should be aware of jealousy, yet get jealous at Desdemona. When Emilia realizes Othello’s jealousy, Emilia talks to Desdemona. Emilia describes jealousy as a “monster” (3.4.182-183). Desdemona agrees to the perception of jealousy relating to monsters and wishes for Othello’s jealousy to be nonexistent by wishing “Heaven to keep the monster from Othello’s mind!” (3.4.184). On the other hand, Shakespeare implies jealousy as a monster, but also dehumanizes the possessor of jealousy to the extent where the pronouns change to “creature.” In this case, Desdemona refers to Othello and his soul “As jealous creatures are” (3.4.28). This one example qualifies as Shakespeare expressing jealousy to represent a monster rather than a human. This would make sense because multiple times throughout the novel Shakespeare compares jealousy to a monster. Overall, jealousy adequately compares to a monster from several passages to count monstrosity as a key function of jealousy.

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Shakspeare compares jealousy to poison, by signaling the power and destructibility of itself. Iago uses jealousy to the point that when he talks to himself, he imagines jealousy as powerful as poison. As Othello falls to the ground, Iago tells himself, “My medicine, work!” (4.1.56). Iago imagines the medicine as poison and jealousy while realizing the power and destructibility one has when making another jealous. Iago says, “I’ll pour this pestilence into his ear” (2.3.376). The pestilence represents the poison, and by this Shakspeare compares the poisonous lies Othello tells to how overcome with jealousy Othello will feel after hearing Iago. When Iago uses his “poison” on Othello, the depiction of jealousy suffices to the comparison when Iago says “The Moor already changes with my poison” (3.3.373). This quote displays how Shakespeare continuously compares jealousy to poison. The conceits Iago tells are the lies that ultimately make Othello jealous, and the jealousy that makes the poison jealousy: “Dangerous conceits are in their natures poisons” (3.3.374). The destructibility factor Shakespeare notions to poison because in Shakespeare’s mind, both are significantly harmful.

Shakspeare exemplifies the self-generating aspect of jealousy, and how it forms from its inherent nature. Emilia, Desdemona’s caretaker, comforts her when Othello’s jealousy takes over her, and he says cruel things. Emilia comforts her by saying jealous souls are “They are not ever jealous for the cause” (3.4.181). Emilia means that jealous people are inherently jealous, and are never jealous for the reason they think. When Emilia says this, she comforts Desdemona by saying this, but also says this to explain the reason behind Othello’s jealousy. Secondly, Emilia describes the reason for jealous souls not because of any reason, “But jealous for they’re jealous” (3.4.182). What Shakspeare attempts to portray through Emilia is the concept of jealousy coming from an inherently jealous person, rather than Othello acting jealous towards Desdemona. In addition, Emilia tells Desdemona of jealousy as self-generating. Again, Emilia tries to convince Desdemona of jealousy always connecting to its inherent and self-generating attribute. Jealousy will always come from one who is born jealous, not because of any particular reason. Iago uses manipulation to bring Othello into a jealous stage “That judgment cannot cure” (2.1.324). Iago means how Othello will be so jealous, that nothing will prevent himself from jealousy, and ultimately kill Desdemona. Iago’s perspective on jealousy connects to its inherent self, because if one feels so jealous then the inherent place of jealousy arises. One who feels so jealous that not even judgment can cure, must be inherently jealous. After connecting jealousy to its inherent and self-generating nature, all aspects have been crossed off the mechanics of jealousy in

Shakspeare connects jealousy to a self-generating, poisonous monster. Iago uses his manipulation and lies, to use Othello as his innocent victim. Understanding what Shakespeare compares jealousy to, allows the reader to understand better. The mechanics of jealousy are very important for the reader to know, because jealousy is more than just through the ideology of romantic and professionalism.

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The Depiction of Jealousy in Othello: Critical Analysis. (2022, March 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 27, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-depiction-of-jealousy-in-othello-critical-analysis/
“The Depiction of Jealousy in Othello: Critical Analysis.” Edubirdie, 18 Mar. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/the-depiction-of-jealousy-in-othello-critical-analysis/
The Depiction of Jealousy in Othello: Critical Analysis. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-depiction-of-jealousy-in-othello-critical-analysis/> [Accessed 27 Sept. 2022].
The Depiction of Jealousy in Othello: Critical Analysis [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Mar 18 [cited 2022 Sept 27]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-depiction-of-jealousy-in-othello-critical-analysis/
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