Essay on Jealousy in Shakespeare's Othello

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Jealousy in Othello

The tragedy of Othello is the story of jealousy. It is Othello's public insecurity that makes him jealous of Cassio and allows him to believe that Cassio has slept with Desdemona. Also, it is Iago's jealousy of Othello that drives him to destroy both Othello and Desdemona. What is fascinating about Shakespeare's Othello is the way in which jealousy between the major characters is sexualized. Perhaps what makes Othello so disturbing is how quickly this sexualized jealousy turns into hate. For Othello and Iago love becomes hate, and hate becomes love and the distinction between these two feelings is constantly being blurred.

The character of Othello is pulled toward what he terms Cassio's courtly and
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Cassio both has violated Desdemona's purity and violated the bond between Othello and Cassio. The bond between Othello and Cassio is symbolized by the way in which Othello makes Cassio his second wife after Desdemona. Cassio and Desdemona serve the same role in Othello's life. Othello loves both because he believes both posses what he lacks: culture, and aristocratic blood. And both Desdemona and Cassio bring the respectability that Othello so desperately seeks out. It is important to note that both Cassio and Desdemona provide no emotional support to Othello. This is because Othello's idolization of both Desdemona and Cassio prevent him from confiding in them. Othello in the end though comes to turn his love and admiration of Cassio into hatred in the same way he turns his feelings toward Desdemona into murderous hatred.

Iago's feelings toward Othello possess the same erotic jealousy that Othello feels for Cassio. But Iago from the outset of the play turns his desire for Othello into a burning hatred that destroys both Othello and those that love him. Iago's feelings toward Othello contain an erotic component as can be seen in scene 3.3 when Iago convinces Othello of Desdemona's unfaithfulness and Othello vows revenge. In this scene Iago kneels before Othello and the two enact a symbolic marriage as Othello symbolically breaks his vows with Desdemona and Iago forms
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