Themes in Othello Essays

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Themes in Shakespeare's Othello
Throughout Shakespeare's play, Othello, there are many themes interwoven to describe the author's perspective of the true nature of a man's soul. Three themes critical to the play are doubt versus trust, monstrous imagery and the fallible love of man.
One central theme of the play is the major contrast of doubt versus trust. For whatever reason, Othello's trust of Desdemona is too weak to resist Iago's accusations. As happens in many of Shakespeare's works, miscommunication and mistrust lead to "prepost'rous conclusions" (1. 3. 323).
Othello's heart tells him that Desdemona loves him; however the critical Iago can dismantle Othello's trust in his wife by planting seeds doubt through what appears to
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3. 241). Othello fails to see that honor cannot be subject to empirical proof.
Shakespeare's exploration of the concept of jealousy leads to the theme of the human mind's predisposition to favor the "monstrous." Monsters of the human psyche are self-generating, even without the prodding of an evil manipulator such as Iago. He feeds this compulsion by encouraging Othello to "behold," in his mind's eye, his wife being "topped" by Cassio (3. 3. 412). When jealousy is labeled as a monster in the play, it is used to suggest how one can be overtaken by a passion. Iago defines jealousy as "the green-eyed monster, which doth mock the meat it feeds on" (3. 3. 179-80), a foul parasite that torments its host. When Emilia explains jealousy to be a "monster begot upon itself, born on itself" (3. 4. 157), she underscores its self-generating nature. "Jealous souls" do not need real events to fuel their suspicions because, Emilia explains, they are "not ever jealous for the cause" (3. 4. 154-55).
When Cassio is demoted for drunkenness, he laments that humans "transform ourselves into beasts" through alcohol that also provides "joy, pleasance, revel" (2. 3. 257-58). And for Othello, consuming jealousy transforms him into a violent predator that performs the "monstrous act," as Montano describes it, of murdering Desdemona (5. 2. 197). Iago serves as a catalyst to carry out this monstrous
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