Jealousy is the feeling of envy towards one another. In Othello, jealousy is the key piece of Iago’s plan to drive Othello mad. Iago makes Othello believe that Cassio is having a hidden affair with his newly wed wife Desdemona. Iago utilizes Othello’s jealousy of Cassio to break his mentality and make him go crazy with rage. Othello’s jealousy soon destroys his bond with Desdemona and corrupts his good nature. Iago manipulates Othello, through his anger and jealousy towards Cassio, to make him do the unthinkable.
It is important to mention that Othello, nor Desdemona had never been married in the past. It is presumed that Desdemona is in-fact his first true love. Due to his inexperience with romantic relationships, he is prone to self-doubt and insecurity, especially due to his age and his race. Iago, with the desire to manipulate and sabotage their relationship, out of a secret hatred for Othello, attempts to implant the notion that Desdemona might perhaps be cheating on him with his lieutenant, Michael Cassio in his mind. However, Othello is in denial and reacts defensively, insisting that he is not jealous, in an attempt to cover-up his underlying feelings;
“Why, why is this? Think’st thou I’d make a life of jealousy, to follow still the changes of the moon with fresh suspicions? No! To be once in doubt is to be resolved. Exchange me for a goat when I shall turn the business of my soul to such exsufflicate and blowed surmises, matching thy inference. 'Tis not to make me jealous to say my wife is fair, feeds well, loves company, is free of speech, sings, plays, and dances. Where virtue is, these are more virtuous. Nor from mine own weak merits will I draw the smallest fear or doubt of her revolt, For she had eyes and chose me. No, Iago, I’ll see before I doubt, when I doubt, prove, And on the proof there is no more but this: Away at once with love or jealousy!”.
The quote “for she had eyes and chose me” refers to Othello’s willingness to trust Desdemona. He still intends to prevent jealousy from getting under his skin. However, Othello then begins to question himself and suspects that what Iago had suggested is actually true, and that his wife is cheating on him with his lieutenant. He also states that he does not want to be remembered as a man who was susceptible to jealousy, again, in desire to maintain his stable image.
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