Jealousy in William Shakespeare's Othello

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Jealousy in William Shakespeare's Othello What is the most disastrous human emotion? William Shakespeare's Othello makes it clear that the answer to this question is jealousy. After all, it is jealousy that drives Iago to concoct the plan, which ruins the lives of several innocent people including Othello, Desdemona, Emilia, and Roderigo. This play poses a distinct character foil between Shakespeare's vilest villain, Iago, and the honest, but easily mislead Othello. This tragedy is mostly based upon Iago's suggestion of an affair between Othello's wife, Desdemona, and the lieutenant Cassio. As a loving, trusting husband, Othello at first does not want to believe the insinuations, but his feelings are distorted by the cunning Iago into believing his base slander. Othello's soliloquy in Act III depicts this transformation of his character from an understanding, straightforward man to an angry, suspicious, and jealous husband. The soliloquy begins by Othello complimenting Iago for his help and expert understanding of human nature. "This fellow's of exceeding honesty, and knows all [qualities], with a learn'd spirit, of human dealings." Othello truly believes that Iago is an honest and loyal friend, although the reality is quite the opposite. Othello also feels that Iago knows much about the topic of human dealings with each other. While Othello understands and is an expert at the making of war, he terribly misunderstands people and potential ulterior motives. Othello continues with, "If I do prove her haggard, though that her jesses were my dear heartstrings, I'd whistle her off and let her down the wind to prey at fortune." In this excerpt Othello says that if he finds Desdemona is really 'wild' and is a strumpet he shall turn her out and force her to fend for herself in the world, even if it breaks his heart. The word 'jesse' refers to the string that a falcon's leg is tied to in order to keep it close to its owner during hunting. In this sense, Othello is comparing Desdemona to a wild animal pulling on the jesse, which are metaphorically his heartstrings or caring emotions. The passage then continues with, "Haply, for I am black and have not those soft parts of conversation that chamberers have, or for I am declin'd into the vale of years, yet that's not much." This is a reference to all of Othello's perceived faults.
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