Essay on The Theme of Self Esteem in Othello

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The Theme of Self Esteem in Othello

For the theater-going people of the Elizabethan age, there were many hardships. Many of them experienced poor living conditions and treatment. All of them faced the dangers of a comparatively underdeveloped medical knowledge which often left the young and elderly to die of common diseases. The magic of Shakespeare is not only that historians can learn of otherwise undocumented details of the 1500's, but also that all readers can discover the many similarities between Shakespeare's day and now. These similarities reside heavily not only in speech, but also the human condition. When compared with the people we know today, Shakespeare's characters exhibit only skin-deep differences. Some identical
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Were it not for Roderigo's insecurity, Iago might never have managed to use him to such an extreme extent. Iago is initially tipped off to Roderigo's weakness when he witnesses his despair following the public announcement of Desdemona's marriage to Othello. Roderigo tells Iago, "I will incontinently drown myself" (1.3.305). "It is silliness to live when to live is tornment" (1.3.308). Abraham Maslow, an experienced psychologist, announced in the early 70's his theory of a "hierarchy of needs" (Myers, 426). This hierarchy states that humans are generally predestined to chronologically follow a set of five different requirements. From first to last, they are: physiological needs, safety needs, belongingness and love needs, esteem needs, and finally self-actualization needs. Myers states that humans will reach for higher needs "only if" (426) the lower ones have been met. Upon hearing Roderigo threaten suicide after a failed romance attempt, Iago saw an individual who had just recently begun to sense the need for love, and was nowhere near a stable level of self esteem. In this sense, Iago could be considered a metaphor for all treachery in the world--the evil forces working against the human spirit every day in the 1500's as well as the 21st century. After falling prey to this evil force, Roderigo is finally blindly led into a swordfight and is fatally stabbed by Iago himself. Already in this fairly secondary plot event, we…

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