What Are Examples Of Jealousy In Othello?

Updated 30 September, 2023
Jealousy is ever-present in Shakespeare's Othello. In addition to feeding the insecurities that lead to his tragic fall, jealousy motivates the schemes made against Othello. At the very beginning of the play, Iago mourns that he was overlooked for a military promotion in favor of Cassio, whom he says has never commanded troops in battle. When he predicts a warning about jealousy to Othello, he is speaking from experience. He recognizes what jealousy has motivated him to do ruin the lives of his superior, friend, and even his own wife. 
Detailed answer:

Jealousy is one of the two main forces in the play that dictates the action of Othello and Iago and is transcendent to modern audiences. An example of jealousy in Shakespeare’s 16th-century piece is placed in Act 3 Scene 3. “Oh, beware, my lord, of jealousy! It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock. The meat it feeds on.” Iago refers to jealousy as the “greened eyed monster.” As this metaphor suggests, jealousy is closely associated with the theme of appearance and reality. At a point in the scene, Othello asked for Iago to provide “ocular proof” of Desdemona’s infidelity- he wants to see reality. Iago further provides evidence of the handkerchief Othello gifted Desdemona. Othello accepts Iago’s claim and believes it is “ocular proof”. As he makes insinuations about Desdemona’s adultery and infidelity, Othello coerces Iago to reveal what he knows.
Another instance of jealousy occurs in the play when Emilia said these words to Desdemona in an attempt to explain the irrational nature of jealousy.”But jealous souls will not be answered so. They are not ever jealous for the cause. But jealous for they’re jealous. It is a monster begot upon itself, born itself.” The anaphora in this quote explains though jealous individuals may state specific reasons for their jealousy, jealousy has no cause but itself. In other words, jealous people are inherently jealous. Emilia signals the circularity of this logic with the confounding image of jealousy as a monster that gives birth to itself. Emilia’s image recalls Iago’s “green-eyed monster.”

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