Jealousy And Race In Othello Essay

1628 words - 7 pages

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 and on another note, although the character Iago’s motives or justification of/for his malicious actions is unclear, it can be argued that he is driven by jealousy himself and therefore it is also ironic that whilst he intends for Othello to suffer via jealousy, his ‘jealousy-driven’ schemes will also become the catalyst which brings forth his own downfall. Evidence supporting Iago’s jealousy includes his loathing over Cassio’s promotion by Othello over himself and Iago also finds it odd and is appalled of Othello’s status amongst the ‘upper-class’ Venetians despite Othello being a ‘Moor’, lastly during one of Iago’s soliloquies he mentions, “But for my sport and profit. I hate the Moor...He has done my office…” here he lets it known that there is a rumour that Othello has bedded Emilia, Iago’s wife and Desdemona’s maid-servant, Iago admits that it is unlikely to be true, however he will carry on as if it did. This illustrates the clouded judgement possessed by Iago, as brought about by jealousy, the green-eyed monster. The poison and planted evidence (theft and placement of the handkerchief) cause a noble Othello to plummet into a primal state of jealousy and instinct, this is shown through the change of dialogue from...

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