Jealousy in Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, and Winter's Tale
The common thread of jealousy ties together the main plots in Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, and The Winter's Tale. In each of these plays, the main conflict is centered around some form of jealousy. While jealousy is the mutual, most prominent cause for turmoil in these plays, its effects on the characters, and ultimately the plots, is different in each case. This difference has much to do with the way in which the concept of jealousy is woven into each play, and what it is intended to accomplish.
In Othello, the jealousy factor is deliberately introduced by Iago, with the precise intention of destroying those whom he feels have wronged him. Since it is intentionally used with malicious intent, it has catastrophic results. Iago himself is jealous of Cassio; he feels that he should have been appointed to Cassio's position by Othello, and since he wasn't he hates both Othello and Cassio. Iago channels the jealousy that Othello and Cassio have made him feel, and uses it against them in a hateful plan. Iago starts the process by planting the seeds of jealousy in Othello's mind, telling him Desdemona has been unfaithful. He then proceeds to cultivate the growing jealousy by feeding it with more lies, and twisting innocent events into situations which would serve his needs (his telling Othello that Cassio and Desdemona met in secret, and convincing him that Desdemona vied for Cassio's reinstatement as lieutenant because she loved him, for example). When the seeds had flourished, and Iago had succeeded in driving Othello mad with jealousy, Iago harvested his crop and convinced Othello to kill Desdemona. Othello's killing Desdemona would both rid Iago of Desdemona and defame Othello, subjecting him to persecution by the government. In the process, Iago has also succeeded in turning Othello against Cassio, and having Cassio's coveted position taken from him. Ultimately, the deception based on Iago's jealousy, which resulted in Othello's induced jealousy, brought about the downfall of most of the characters in the play - including Iago himself.
The way jealousy is introduced into the plot of The Winter's Tale is much different than Othello, and thus it has different results. In Othello, the jealousy was incited by Iago, a character; in The Winter's Tale, no one purposely inspired Leontes' jealousy, he came about it on his own. In this way, no character wielded jealousy as a weapon against another but, rather, it was both introduced by and used on the same character. Leontes, although he specifically asked...