The Role of Jealousy in Shakespeare’s OthelloIn the play, Othello, written by William Shakespeare, there is the classic good against evil conflict. Evil, in this case, was represented by jealousy in every bad situation. The antagonist, Iago, was jealous of Othello’s power as a general, and of Othello’s relationship with the fair Desdemona. Othello is a powerful general, a Moor, who married Desdemona, the daughter of Barbantio, who was a senator.
Jealousy begins the book when every body comes to realize that Othello and Desdemona have eloped. It seems as if every male in the book is in some way in love with Desdemona, whether it is for her looks, for her presence, or because it gives them reason to hate the Moor, Othello, who is her husband. The first sign of envy came from Iago toward Othello. Although Iago is married, he wants Desdemona under his power as well. He is also jealous of Cassio, Othello’s lieutenant, because he was chosen to be Othello’s lieutenant over himself.
The first sign of Iago’s jealousy was seen in the first act, and it wastoward Cassio and Othello. “One great Michael Cassio, a Florentine,A fellow almost damned in a fair wife,That never set a squadron in the fieldNor the division of a battle knowsMore than a spinster–unless the bookish theoric,Wherein the togaed consuls can proposeAs masterly as he. Mere prattle without practiceIs all his soldiership. But he^, sir, had th’ election;And I, of whom his eyes had seen the proofAt Rhodes, at Cyprus, and on other groundsChristened and heathen, must be beleed and calmedBy debitor and creditor. This countercaster,He, in good time, must his lieutenant be,And I–God bless the mark!–his Moorship’s ancient.” (3 & 4)^ he, hi…
…wrought.Perplexed in the extreme; of one whose hand,Like the base Indian, threw a pearl awayRicher than all his tribe; of one whose subdued eyes,Albeit unused to the melting mood,Drops tears as fast as the Arabian treesTheir medicinable gum. Set you down this;And say besides that in Aleppo once,Where a maignant and a turbaned TurkBeat a Venetian and traduced the state,I took by th’ throat the circumcised dogAnd smote him, thus. [he stabs himself.]” (126 & 127)
And then he said, of Desdemona, that he was sorry, in his own way. Though terrible, he believed it to be the only way to keep his honor by her and by his state and people.”I kissed thee ere I killed thee. No way but this,Killing myself, to die upon a kiss.[He kisses Desdemona, and dies.]” (127)
Shakespeare, William. Othello. Foresman and Company, New York, 1980