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An Analysis of the Themes of Pride and Jealousy in Othello, a Play by William Shakespeare

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Pride and Jealousy

“Othello”, written by Shakespeare, utilizes numerous thematic focuses to develop an awful plot. The Othello Oral Report concentrated on dishonesty and miscommunication, jealousy and remorse, and gender and pride, along with more themes that I think about less popular and will therefore not discuss. The Performance Session was primarily concentrated on gender differences and jealousy, as well as dishonesty. Personally, I would have included race in my thematical analysis.

By utilizing a mix of dishonesty and miscommunication, Shakespeare establishes a terrible chain of events; without those 2 main themes, there just would not be a play. We can see when Iago states “O sorrowful fool/ That lov’st to make thine sincere a vice!/ … To be direct and honest is not safe!” (3.3.372-375) that he thinks of sincerity as a harmful and silly quality to have. Iago is often called “sincere Iago” (1.3.293), which contrasts with his true character and emphasizes his dishonesty to the audience. “My pal, thy husband, truthful, sincere Iago” (5.2.149) portrays that Othello thinks Iago’s lies and can quickly be controlled, which Iago uses to make him think that Desdemona is being unfaithful to him. There is also a lot of miscommunication, suggesting misconstrued or just semi-true material, throughout the play, which adds to the unfolding of occasions. The miscommunication can be seen in between Emilia and Iago with the handkerchief when Emilia says “What will you finish with it, that you have been so earnest/ To have me fitch it?” (3.3.311-312) and Iago declines to answer. Iago employs miscommunication and dishonesty for his own benefit. “The Moor is of a totally free and open nature,/ That believes males honest that but appear to be so,/ and will as tenderly be led by th’ nose/ As asses are” (1.3.377-380) shows Iago’s intents to lie to Othello to control him.

Iago’s lies and manipulation fuel Othello’s jealousy, which ultimately lead to death and regret. The plot starts with Iago’s jealousy of Cassio, as seen in “I know my cost, I am worth no even worse a place …/ And what was he?/ Forsooth, an excellent arithmetician,/ One Michael Cassio, a Florentine/ … But he, sir, had the election/ … He, in good time, should his lieutenant be” (1.1.10-30), because Cassio was selected as military lieutenant, rather than Iago. Iago is likewise jealous of Othello since “it is believed abroad, that ‘twixt [Iago’s] sheets/ … I understand not if’t hold true,/ But I, for mere suspicion because kind,/ Will do as if for surety” (1.3.365-368) which Iago “suspect [s] the desire Moor/ Hath jumped into [his] seat” (2.1.278-279), indicating that there are rumors of Othello having an affair with Emilia, Iago’s better half. Iago is not sure whether this report holds true, but will ruin Othello’s life anyhow, simply to make sure. Iago himself is consumed with jealousy and decides to make Othello jealous by making him believe that Desdemona is sleeping with Cassio. This jealousy, which does get to Othello, presses him to eliminate Desdemona, the love of his life. After realizing what he has done, he stands in front of dead Desdemona and expresses regret by saying “This appearance of thine will toss my soul from paradise,/ and fiends will take at it. Cold, cold, my women,/ Even like thy chastity. O cursèd, cursèd servant!/ Whip me, ye devils” (5.2.268-271). The most awful moment of the play truly is when Othello understands that he let his jealousy get the very best of him.

While pride is an obvious style, considering that it does cause jealousy, gender and race show up as separate, subtle themes. Guy’s pride is extremely materialistic and heroic, implying that we can see, from quotes such as “That handkerchief which I so enjoyed and provided thee” (5.2.48), Othello’s jealousy and hurt over a scarf, an object more materialistic, while “I am hitherto your child. But here’s my hubby” (1.3.184) shows that Desdemona, as well as many ladies at the time, took pride in love and honor rather. The loss of pride causes the jealousy seen throughout the play: Iago’s loss of the promo, Iago’s loss of faith in his wife, and Othello’s loss of faith in his other half. In terms of gender role, females at the time were anticipated to marry a man of their dads’ picking and to remain devoted to their other halves. Emilia married Iago and remained devoted to him by not questioning his unwillingness to say why he wanted the scarf as he says “Why, what is that to you?” (3.3.313), and Desdemona was a loyal wife to Othello. But Desdemona presses back the female role in society by defying her dad and marrying Othello. When her dad, Brabanzio, states “Dads, from hence trust not your daughters’ minds/ By what you see them act” (1.1.166-167), he indicates that a guy gets to select whom his daughter weds, however as seen when Desdemona responds with “I do view here a divided duty/ … But here’s my spouse” (1.3.180-184), she tells him that she chooses Othello and will not succumb to her dad’s desires. “If she be fair and smart, fairness and wit,/ The one’s for usage, the other useth it” (2.1.127-128) is an insult stated about females by Iago, which reveals the demeaning habits of guys towards females. Emilia also shows that males considered themselves as much better than females by saying “Tis not a year or 2 shows us a male./ They are all however stomachs, and all of us however food./ To consume us hungerly, and when they are complete,/ They belch us” (3.4.95-98). The fact that Othello is a black male, a Moor, and that Desdemona selected him comes back throughout “Othello” and is a factor as to why the jealousy is intensified and his pride is so important to him. “An old black ram/ Is tupping your white ewe” (1.1.92) by Iago, “Her name, that was as fresh/ As Dian’s visage, is now begrimed and black/ As mine own face” (3.3.396-398) by Othello, and “the more angel she, and you the blacker devil” (5.2.144-145) by Emilia all point to the reality that Othello’s race troubled most, even to the point of giving Othello himself some insecurities.

Shakespeare had the ability to incorporate many styles in “Othello,” but its terrible ending is triggered by dishonesty and jealousy, causing the death of several characters. This play demonstrates how women were expected to behave and how crucial military heroism was, however it likewise shows how lies can alter somebody’s life, which held true at the time and still is today.

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