Jealousy and Race in Othello

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Othello is one of Shakespeare’s tragedies; originally written as a play and performed to an Elizabethan audience. Othello and many of Shakespeare’s other plays have been performed to various audiences since, and have been adapted into Opera, Ballet, Film and television productions. Othello has survived the centuries to this day and age; and continues to captivate and remain relevant to a modern audience; Othello certainly is a timeless classic work of art. “The object of tragic imitation is men in action.” As stated by Aristotle in his work, Poetics. Othello consists of men in action, in more than one sense; Othello (titular character & protagonist), Iago and Cassio are ‘men of action’ and additionally, throughout the play we are able to observe men and women combating none other than life itself. The play deals with various themes and issues, however, this essay will focus on jealousy and race. Othello is considered one of the infamous (if not the most) literary works focusing on jealousy and the consequences it brings about. Various characters besides Othello fall victim to jealousy in the play and subject to different forms, i.e. sexual suspicion, lust and even disputes over promotion. It may be said that jealousy is the essence of the ‘tragedy’ that takes place in Othello. Shakespeare utilizes the literary technique of dramatic and tragic irony in these lines delivered by Iago, addressing Othello, “O beware, my lord, of jealousy! It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on…” , It is ironic because although on the surface Iago plays an advisory role against jealousy, he actually means for it to further incline Othello towards it. The audience is aware of Iago’s plots and schemes, though Othello is not ... ... middle of paper ... ... utilizes motifs in the ‘black hawk’ representing O. Multiple times we a shot of the hawk and one of O following. Hugo’s caging of the hawk mascot foreshadows Hugo’s ensnaring of O’s heart and soul. By the end, Hugo’s voiceover is repeated and added on to, “But a hawk is no good around normal birds, it can’t fit in…” Hugo essentially describes O’s situation in school, with him as the black hawk, dark and proud but in an all-white school that is hesitant to treat him equally. Shakespeare and Nelson both made use of appropriate techniques to highlight the issues of jealousy and race to their respective audiences, which are still present in society and will continue to be, as long as humans will be human. Works Cited Othello, Act I, Scene I Lines 81 - 94 Othello, Act I Scene III Lines 288 - 290 DVD, Dir. Tim Blake Nelson. Lions Gate Entertainment, 2001

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