Green Eyed Monster In William Shakespeare's Othello

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Othello is a tragic play written by an English playwright, William Shakespeare, which contains several themes: love, racism, honesty, Christian values, and reputation, just to name a few. The play takes place in Venice, but soon moves to Cyprus, which the Christians had won from the Turks. By staring en media res in the beginning of the play, Shakespeare introduces that Iago is going to seek revenge on Othello. Iago then manipulates characters’ minds and feelings so he can achieve his goal, which he eventually fails.

Nearly every character in this tragic play suffers from one of the most corrupting and destructive emotions: jealousy. Only Desdemona and Cassio, the true innocents of the story, do not feel jealous while other characters demonstrate how jealousy can trigger disaster. Throughout the play, with Iago’s utterance, jealousy arises within the characters; however, Iago himself acts the way he does in the play because of his own jealousy. Still, apparently he manages to release the xenophobia of others to manipulate their jealousy in order to get revenge on Othello. In this play, it is clear that jealousy is an important theme.

Jealousy is a common feeling which every human has. BBC states that “According to clinical psychologist Ayala Malach Pines, ‘jealousy is a complex reaction to a perceived threat to a valued relationship or to its quality’. Unlike envy, it always involves a fear of loss and requires three people” (“Relationships & Couples” - 1). Ayala Malach Pines basically explains that jealousy is a feeling of wanting control over something or someone and it starts from fear of losing that something or someone. Also, Ayala mentions jealousy is complex since it involves emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Above all these factors, when people feel jealous, they tend to feel grief, anger, envy, humiliation, fear, sadness, pain, or rage, and behavior such as “feeling faint, trembling and sweating, constant questioning and seeking reassurance, aggressive actions, even violence” (“Relationships & Couples” - 1). can been seen.

Often times, the word ‘envy’ is defined as jealousy. It is true that when people feel jealous, they may feel envy; however, feeling jealous differs from feeling envious. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines envy as, “painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage” (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary), which means that envy is a frustration or desire caused by another person having something that he or she does not have, such as skills, talent, money, or a job.
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