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The Features of Human Relationships in Othello

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Jealousy and pride tend to take root within an individual and unravel relationships between people. The play, Othello, tells a tale of Othello, who begins to lose trust in his beloved wife Desdemona, due to his uncertainty of deserving her love and lies that his trusted friend, Iago, had told him. In Othello, Shakespeare particularly takes a more pessimistic view of human relationships.

An example of these flawed human relationships is the marriage between Desdemona and Othello. In the beginning during Act I, both Desdemona and Othello are in love and have complete faith in that love. When Desdemona’s father Brabantio questions him about how sure he is about their love, he quite confidently says “My life upon her faith” (1.3.335). Othello swears that if she ever is unfaithful to him, he will take his own life. In doing this, Othello demonstrates how much trust he had in her and how deep his love runs for her. However, as the play progresses, Iago’s manipulations of the truth and Othello’s growing insecurities get the best of him and led him to ‘suspect’ his wife had fallen in love with another man, saying “O curse of marriage, that we can call these delicate creatures ours and not their appetites” (3.3.309-11). Othello finally succumbs to Iago’s false truths about Desdemona and is quick to scoff at the prospect of being able to call someone theirs but have them be unfaithful regardless. Othello’s love for Desdemona becomes overwhelmed by all these factors and he accuses her of being unfaithful to him.

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Another example of one of these relationships that Shakespeare had developed in a pessimistic way was the ‘friendship’ between Iago and Roderigo. In the play, Roderigo is led to believe that he and Iago are such close friends and Iago would help him win Desdemona’s affection. The reality of the situation was that Iago was merely using Roderigo as a pawn in his elaborate plan to bring down Othello and in turn, deceiving Roderigo easily since he is quite naïve. Towards the end of the play, Roderigo becomes more aware of the fact that Iago was using him, saying that he “ keep’st from [him] all conveniency than suppliest me with the least advantage of hope” (4.2.208-09). Roderigo eventually approaches Iago, furious that he has made no progress with Desdemona and Iago only goes to him when it is convenient for him. Roderigo comes to realize that Iago is manipulating him into doing his bidding instead of actually being a concerned friend and helping him.

Shakespeare builds the human relationships of this play on a relatively weak foundation, which makes them seem “flawed”. They all result in falling apart due to jealousy, one’s pride or insecurities, and manipulations. Shakespeare mainly portrays the ‘ugly’ sides of a relationship, emphasizing the idea that those that we’ve come to trust the most can hurt us the most.

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The Features of Human Relationships in Othello. (2022, Jun 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from
“The Features of Human Relationships in Othello.” Edubirdie, 09 Jun. 2022,
The Features of Human Relationships in Othello. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 31 Jan. 2023].
The Features of Human Relationships in Othello [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 09 [cited 2023 Jan 31]. Available from:
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