Theme of Jealousy in Othello In his literary works, William Shakespeare explored a host of themes through which he addressed various concerns. He developed the respective themes through the plot as well as using the characters in his plays and texts. He accords his characters mannerisms that seek to develop the themes that he wishes to present to his audience. Through various literary devices, he succeeds in presenting recurrent themes to the audience. Some of the common themes that are apparent in his pieces of work include death, betrayal, love and so forth. Perhaps the most paramount theme pertains to jealousy. Although he explores various other themes, jealousy remains the main theme in his classic piece of literature, Othello.
Seemingly, the theme of jealousy runs throughout the entire text. At the very beginning of the play, Roderigo is presented as being jealous of the protagonist, Othello as Desdemona’s husband (Zender 326). This is because he wanted to be with Desdemona and instead make her his wife. At the end of the text, jealousy is portrayed when Othello becomes very furious after he is made to believe that Desdemona and Cassio are having a love affair. Arguably, jealousy is a theme that has been greatly featured in the text.
At the beginning of the play, Roderigo is confined in Iago and is presented to be so much in love with Desdemona (Shakespeare 1154). The intense liking he has for Desdemona compels him to even pay Iago to help him woo her from her husband Othello. This first scene is of paramount importance because it portrays the true character of lago. He is presented as being manipulative and a villain. Iago proceeds with the plan although his main aim is not to help Roderigo get the love of his life; rather it is to cause Othello emotional distress.
In Othello, jealousy affects almost all characters and has diverse implications on their wellbeing. Although some of the characters are naturally jealous, others have their jealousy triggered by other characters. In this regard, Iago plays the leading role in triggering jealousy in other characters. As aforementioned, Iago takes practical measures to make Othello very jealous of his wife in a bid to destroy the relationship that they share (Omer and Marcello 3). To attain this, he creates lies about Desdemona’s unfaithfulness. He pursues this goal when him and Othello see Desdemona and Cassio together. Iago makes a very sly comment which leaves Othello wondering about the intentions of the Cassio and Desdemona. Othello gets even more jealous when lago fails to provide any further details about the two when interrogated.
In the third scene, Othello’s heart is inflamed with jealousy when he asks his wife about a handkerchief and she only provides the embroidered type. In this instance, she speaks of Cassio, further infuriating Othello who simply walks out. Othello becomes more jealous in the fourth scene when he sees Desdemona’s handkerchief with Bianca. This convinces him that his wife is actually having a love affair with Cassio.
In essence, jealousy is a paramount theme that runs throughout Othello. It is propagated by Iago who goes to all lengths to make everybody envious and angry. He literarily destroys Othello by making him jealous of his wife. As it has come out from the study, almost all characters are affected by this theme.
Omer, Haim and Marcello de Verona. Doctor Lago’s treatment of Othello. American Journal of Psychology, 45 (1991): 1-12. Print.
Shakespeare William. The tragedy of Othello. Literature: Approaches to fiction, poetry and drama. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2006. Print.
Zender, Karl. The humiliation of lago. Studies in English Literature, 34 (1994): 323-330. Print.