Jealousy in Othello

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Shakespeare’s Othello is a play consistently based on jealously and the way it can destroy lives. One is quick to think this jealously is based on Othello’s lack of belief in Desdemona’s faithfulness to him or his suspensions over Desdemona’s affair with Cassio, Othello’s honorable lieutenant. Upon closer inspection of the jealously that exists throughout the play it becomes clear that his jealously is not the sole start and reason for all of the destruction that occurs. Iago, a good friend of Othello, is not who he appears to be. Iago’s own jealously of those around him pushes him over the edge. He begins to deceive all those who believe he is a true, honorable, and faithful man. Throughout Othello, Iago incites his own jealously in others, begins to take advantage of those around him, and does not relent on anyone who gets in his way to gain what he craves most: power.

First, jealously stems from Iago’s own craving for what others have and he lacks. Iago is a man who uses jealousy against those around him; however, this jealously seems to be what fuels his own loathing in the first place. Iago’s jealously is first shown at the beginning of the play when he is speaking with Roderigo about the Moor. He says:

Despise me

If I do not. Three great ones of the city

In personal suit to make me his lieutenant

Off-capped to him, and by the faith of man

I know my price, I am worth no worse a place.


In other words, Iago believes he deserves the position of lieutenant, but Othello has different plans. The above passage also clearly shows Iago’s hate for Othello because he is a man of power, something Iago longs for. Iago is also jealous of the fact that Othello has made Cassio lieutenant, a man “That nev...

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...longed for, but Iago soon realizes it does not end like he had hoped for.

In Othello, jealousy takes many forms, from warfare competition to sexual and emotional distrust, but each case ended in destruction. Iago used jealousy as a weapon against each character for his own narcissistic means; however, his efforts were futile. All of the intricate planning and deception that Iago enacted backfired. Although each character’s blind love made him oblivious to Iago’s deceit and allowed him to succumb to jealousy, Iago’s plans were flawed. By the end of the play all of Iago’s lies begin to unravel and his strategy to obtain power is clearly visible. Not only did Iago’s scheme miscarry and lead to the annihilation of Roderigo, Desdemona, Emilia, and Othello, it led to his own torture until death as well as ironically to Cassio’s promotion to the governor of Venice.
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