Othello : A Symbiotic Relationship

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Iago + Othello: A symbiotic relationship

William Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ is one of the most emotionally fraught and psychologically intense of all of Shakespeare’s tragedies. The deeply psychological ideas it explores such as the nature of narcissism and psychopathy become a concentrated concoction of jealousy, hatred, insecurity, rage and repressed sexual desires within their isolated setting on the Island of Cyprus. When one applies a psychoanalytic lens to the play the internal workings of the human mind bubble to the surface with an intensity that is difficult to ignore. This is best expressed by analyzing the characters of Othello, a clear example of a narcissist and Iago, an id driven psychopath, and the way in which the two influence and psychologically feed off each other.

Othello is at his essence a deeply insecure man, and his narcissistic tendencies make him vulnerable to influence by Iago. According to literary critic Rosenberg, Othello is “self-deceiving, irritable, hasty, dependant and insecure”, all traits of a classic narcissist. Although a successful soldier, Othello believes himself to lack in all other areas of life as he exemplifies himself when he claims “haply for I am black / and have not the soft parts of conversation…. I am declined / into the vale of years”. Due to these insecurities, Othello has an inflated sense of self importance and is obsessed with his status in Venetian society. He clearly views himself as the honourable and noble man we

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