How Does Shakespeare Use Language and Dramatic Devices to Present the Theme of Jealousy in Othello?

1485 Words Nov 22nd, 2010 6 Pages
How does Shakespeare use language and dramatic devices to present the theme of jealousy in Othello?
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Othello weaves a tragic tale of love, jealousy and murder. Set in Venice and progressing to Cyprus, Shakespeare’s Othello follows the cursed path of its namesake, a black soldier whose love for his wife ultimately results in her death. Woven into the socially and emotionally delicate plot is a multitude of key themes, including race (Othello’s colour), love, and jealousy.
A key figure, if not the most important in the play, is that of the malcontent Iago, who sows the seeds of jealousy in Othello’s mind, and presents him with ‘proof’ to back up his suspicions. Iago acts as a catalyst to Desdemona’s murder and it is his intricate scheme
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At this point the staging would be of great importance, I would place Cassio and Desdemona on the far left, and as Othello and Iago enter on the far right, Cassio exiting promptly. This view of the scene would reinforce the idea that Cassio is up to no good by visiting Desdemona, and would then be backed up by Iago describing him as acting “guilty-like” on line 39.
Iago plays on Othello’s own insecurity about his race to trigger jealousy; an example of this would be his observation on lines 227 and 228, where he insinuates that Desdemona may be better suited to somebody “of her own clime, complexion and degree”. This follows a quote from Othello, stating that his relationship is ‘nature erring from itself’, allowing the audience to see his own uncertainty about his ethnic background, which Iago then develops and twists to suit his needs. Iago’s quote implies that Desdemona would be better matched with a man of similar race, such as Cassio, rather than Othello, which is designed to spark jealousy within Othello, and is shown to have a profound effect on him towards the end of the scene, with his aside to the audience “Why did I marry”.
This short soliloquy allows the audience to see Othello’s feelings, whereas he is, at this point, keeping them from…