Shakespeare’s Othello centers on jealousy, which is the driving plot force. Many people experience this emotion throughout the story’s course. Iago’s personal and professional envy is an important element in the play’s development. Jealousy affects Othello, Bianca, and Roderigo as well.
The idea of jealousy is the basis for the entire plot of Othello. Iago is the main character who is affected by this emotion. He is professionally dissatisfied, and he resents Cassio because of it. Iago can’t handle how Cassio got promoted above him in the ranks. Iago lambasts Cassio for his lack of military talent:
“And what was he?
Forsooth, a great arithmetician,
One Michael Cassio, a Florentine,
A fellow almost damn’d in a fair wife;
That never set a squadron in the field,
Nor the division of a battle knows
More than a spinster; unless the bookish theoric,
Wherein the toged consuls can propose
As masterly as he: mere prattle, without practise,
Is all his soldiership.”
(Act 1, scene 1).
Furthermore, Iago has a hidden desire for Desdemona. As a result, the animosity between Iago and Othello may be regarded as another example of it. Roderigo is yet another individual who experiences jealousy. He is besotted with Desdemona and tries to win her affection by any means possible.
However, he underestimates the depth of Desdemona’s love for Othello. Roderigo relies on Iago to undermine Desdemona’s faith in Othello. He doesn’t realize that Iago is using him to execute his fiendish scheme. As a result, Roderick becomes a victim of his hatred and Iago’s depravity.
Iago is one of Shakespeare’s most brilliant villains. He uses jealousy to sow seeds of suspicion in Othello’s mind. The character manipulates Othello, exploiting his primary vulnerability – the fear of betrayal.
As readers can see, Othello begins to doubt Desdemona’s devotion as a result of Iago’s methods. As a consequence, Iago’S tactics are effective. Innuendos about Desdemona’s infidelity are among the villain’s tools for reaching his objective. A famous metaphor compares jealousy to a “green-eyed monster,” which Iago employs:
“O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on; that cuckold lives in bliss
Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger;
But, O, what damned minutes tells he o’er
Who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves!”
(Act 3, scene 3)
Cassio, Othello’s lieutenant, serves as a tool for Iago to generate jealousy. To persuade the Moor that his wife is cheating, the villain leaves Desdemona’s handkerchief in Cassio’s chamber. This little piece of cloth has significant effects on Desdemona’s destiny. The handkerchief turned out to be quite important to the woman. When she discovers it is gone, Desdemona becomes frantic:
“Sure, there’s some wonder in this handkerchief:
I am most unhappy in the loss of it.”
(Act 3, scene 4)
The situation with the handkerchief reaches its climax. Jealousy is most evident in Othello’s interactions with Iago, regardless of how many forms it takes. When a character is not limited by expressing emotions, this is when he or she may truly let go and enjoy life. Later, both spouses are murdered, Otheco and Desdemona: both were jealous of each other.
Furthermore, Bianca is jealous of Iago, Othello, and Roderigo. Despite her minor role in the play, she has a significant impact on the plot’s development. However, the lieutenant has been treating her harshly. Instead of telling her how he really felt, he only feeds her empty promises. Bianca becomes jealous as a result of Casso’s attitude. She suspects that the lieutenant does not love her and spills the beans on the handkerchief:
“Let the devil and his dam haunt you! What did you
mean by that same handkerchief you gave me even now?
I was a fine fool to take it. I must take out the
work?–A likely piece of work, that you should find
it in your chamber, and not know who left it there!
This is some minx’s token, and I must take out the
work? There; give it your hobby-horse: wheresoever
you had it, I’ll take out no work on’t”
(Act 4, scene 1)
Iago uses Bianca’s jealousy to help him execute his scheme. As a result, the bad guy exploits the sentiments of the people around him by playing with them.
Overall, jealousy serves as the play’s main plot-moving force. It establishes connections among characters, motivates their behavior, and speeds up events. Roderigo, Othello, Iago, and Bianca are just a few of the individuals who are envious. The examples range from romantic to professional; love is first among them.
Iago, in Act 1, Scene 1, claims he hates Othello because the general passed him over for a promotion, giving “one Michael Cassio” the position of his military lieutenant instead. Iago claims to be far more qualified than Cassio, who lacks Iago’s battle-field experience.
Iago appears to be rather jealous. But is this truly why Iago tries to destroy Othello? Or is it merely an excuse to attack him? In other words, does Iago say everything he says in order to deceive Roderigo? (As we learn later, Roderigo is envious of Othello for marrying Desdemona.)
Othello, Act 1, Scene 3. Iago claimed earlier in the same passage (above) that he suspects Othello has been sleeping with his wife, Emilia. Here, Iago shares his scheme to ruin Othello with the audience — since Othello is so gullible, Iago will “lead him by the nose,” making him think that his own wife is cheating on him.
Iago plans to sow distrust in Othello. What’s fascinating about this passage is how Iago imagines his diabolic plan as a “monstrous birth,” something he will bring into existence. What exactly does it imply?
This is really fascinating. Iago previously stated that he loathes Othello because “the Moor” passed him over for a promotion. Emilia, on the other hand, has been sleeping between [Iago’s] sheets and making love to him twixt them.”
Iago claims he isn’t sure whether the allegation is true, but he’s decided to go ahead and ruin Othello’s life anyhow. It appears that Iago has given two or more competing reasons as to why he wants to destroy Othello; isn’t that right? So we’re not quite sure if we can trust Iago when he says he’s jealous of Othello’s supposed relationship with Emilia.
In Act 3, Scene 3, Othello says that he will not be destroyed by jealousy. Despite the fact that he is black, Desdemona had eyes and chose [him]. Othello then confesses to having a little more jealousy and suspicion for his wife than he lets on – he states that he wants “some proof” of her infidelity. It appears Iago’s master plot may have worked after all.
Iago understands the potential for jealousy’s power. By claiming that Desdemona may be engaged in nefarious activity, he says, he has poisoned Othello’s thoughts. Because Iago was able to make Othello suspicious, he will never have a good night’s sleep again, not even if he took the finest sleeping pills available.
O, beware, my lord, of jealousy!
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on; (3.3.195-197)
Iago is a master of manipulating Othello, don’t you think? He pretends to warn Othello against being a jealous person, implying that jealousy destroys the heart of the man who becomes its victim.
Iago understands that a handkerchief Iago gave Desdemona is enough to infuriate Othello. In the case of Othello, Iago will utilize the handkerchief Othello offered Desdemona in order to persuade Othello that she has been unfaithful. (Remember, Emilia, picked up and delivered to Iago Desdemona’s dropped handkerchief.)
(Iago assures Cassio that he will hide the handkerchief.) Even though the handkerchief is “light as air” and “little,” once Othello sees it in another guy’s hands, he’ll believe he has solid evidence that Desdemona is a liar. When Iago refers to the handkerchief as “proofs of holy writ,” he means that Othello will see them as gospel truth when she cheats.
Act 3, Scene 4. Emilia understands the nature of envy. Here she points out that jealous husbands such as Othello never really need a reason to be jealous – they just are jealous. The way Emilia explains that jealousy is like a “monster / begot on itself, born on itself” is fascinating.
In other words, jealousy grows from nothing and multiplies or reproduces by consuming itself. Consider how Emilia describes jealousy versus what Iago has to say about exposing his “monstrous birth” in 1.3.398 above.
When Desdemona realizes she’s misplaced her handkerchief, which was a precious present from her husband, she becomes frantic. What’s fascinating is that Desdemona has no idea how Othello would react; she claims Othello isn’t a jealous person, so there’s no need to be concerned. According to her, “Othello’s in the truth of his soul,” and he’d “never stoop [his] high stature” to engage in such behavior.
Act 5, Scene 2.
Speak of me as I am. Nothing extenuate,
Nor set down aught in malice. Then must you speak
Of one that loved not wisely, but too well;
Of one not easily jealous, but being wrought,
Perplexed in the extreme; (5.2.402-406)
In Othello, on the other hand, Iago is characterized as “perplexed” and “dumbfounded,” with no idea what he was doing when he accused Desdemona of adultery and killed her. He doesn’t want to be known as a person who is “quickly jealous.” Why?