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Othello – A Research Essay
The Orthodox interpretation of Shakespeare’s Othello is built on two assumptions; that Othello is not a jealous man and that Iago has no motives. Although there are many examples of these opinions within the play, I believe there is much more evidence which contradict these two statements, which allow me to conclude that Othello is in fact a jealous man and that Iago does have motives. As the play progresses the audience witness the development and increasing complexity of the characters. This change is particularly evident in Othello as he changes from the proud, eloquent, decicive leader in Act 1 to the petty, irrational, jealous, pathologically suspicious and emotionally unstable man at the end of the play.
Initially Othello himself believes that he is not jealous and constantly assures Iago that he loves the ‘gentle Desdemona’ dearly and is confident of my wife’s virtue.
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
Othello remains convinced that he is not a naturally jealous man throughout the pay, even though both his words and actions contradict this. An example of this is when he confronts Desdemona about the handkerchief. Every other character in the play becomes a victim of Othello’s raging jealousy, Cassio because he is everything that Othello is not, Othello himself dies tragically as a consequence of his downfall but no one more so than the woman that he loves – Desdemona. It is for these reasons that I believe that Othello is jealous, though only as a result of Iago manipulating and exploiting his capacity to be jealous.
In spite of Othello’s ‘free and open nature’ which even Iago admits to, Othello still sees himself as lacking in age, colour and social graces when compared to Cassio.
Haply for I am black
And have not those soft parts of conversation
That chamberers have, or for I am declined
Into the vale of years.
These insecurities which Othello identifies makes him more susceptible to suspicion and jealousy and acting out Iago’s well-crafted plan of revenge. Once Iago has planted the seed in Iago’s mind that Desdmona is quite capable of deception, having already deceived her father, Othello begins to look for reasons for her infidelity, finding his age, race, colour and lack of social graces as culprits.
Without any evidence of any sort, the audience witnesses the immediate metamorphosis of Othello’s overwhelming and evident jealousy.
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Othello, Iago, Michael Cassio, Desdemona, Otello, Bianca
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