Jealousy is a controlling emotion. It is a feeling that can annihilate relationships, and devour the concerned individual’s mind. Whether exhibited in a platonic or sexual relationship, once jealousy is insinuated, it can result in distressing outcomes. Jealousy can swiftly turn to fury or rage, after which it overwhelms the victims; making them fanatical about what they feel as the cause of their unhappiness. In Shakespeare’s play Othello, most of the play’s characters suffer from jealousy at different times. This forces them to act in ways they would not normally do. Emilia, Iago, Bianca, Othello, and Roderigo exhibit jealousy at different times. Each of them discovers solutions for their problems separately.
Iago exhibits jealousy right from the start. His jealousy swiftly changes to thoughts of vengeance: he soon hatches a plan to revenge on people who hurt him in one way or another. From the beginning of Othello, Iago articulates his jealousy for Othello and Cassio. He is envious of Cassio for being a lieutenant, as he had desired to become. He is envious of Othello because of his alleged relations with Emilia. Iago affirms, “It is thought abroad that 'twixt my sheets / He has done my office” (Shakespeare iii 369-370). The envy and insecurity Iago experiences engulf him until he gets to a state of heightened anxiety. As he grows evermore fixated on exacting retribution, Iago speaks soliloquy, stating that he will not be content, “Till I am evend with him, wife for wife, /Or failing so, yet that I put the Moor / At least into a jealousy so strong / That judgment cannot cure” (Shakespeare 2.1. 299-302).
Emilia is envious of Desdemona, perhaps because of her spouse Othello, or maybe due to her innocence. Even though Emilia is attached to Desdemona, she is not from the same low social status as her friend. She is also dissatisfied with her occupation. Emilia is skeptical and aggrieved by her husband, and knows of Iago’s jealousy. Perhaps Emilia is aggrieved by the fact that Othello and Desdemona have a closer and more expressive marital relationship than she has with her spouse. Because of this, Emilia facilitates Iago’s plan by pilfering the handkerchief and being deceitful about its whereabouts.
Othello’s jealousy of Desdemona is possibly the strongest feeling apparent in the play. The jealousy he feels drives him not to reason. Brabantio’s counsel to Othello to “Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see:/She has deceived her father, and may thee” (Shakespeare 1.3. 292-293), drove the seed of jealousy further into Othello’s thoughts. This first seed of distrust permits Iago to, unfairly, use Othello’s jealous character. Iago gradually affects Othello. He gets the outcome he has wished for because jealousy consumes Othello.
Othello incessantly denies resenting his partner, but it is obvious that he is going insane at the idea of Desdemona’s supposed marital infidelity. He says to Iago, “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!” (Shakespeare 3.3.189-192) Othello charges his wife with promiscuity. Although she steadfastly denies the affair, he is unconvinced. Othello feels that the only recourse is to murder his innocent spouse. After Desdemona’s death, the truth is exposed, and Othello selects to kill himself. He asserts that he does not wish to be remembered as a deranged maniac, but a simple-minded man who was misled and perplexed.
Shakespeare’s play of ‘Othello’ reveals the power that envy can have over perfectly sane individuals. Eventually, everyone can feel a stab of jealousy towards another person. Because jealousy affects the trust that a person develops in personal as well as platonic relationships, it can result in a feeling, betrayal, or violation. The play ‘Othello’, though penned centuries ago, still enthralls audiences with its depiction of the distraction a person experiences when feeling envious. Many people can sense Othello’s emotions, because all share human character. In fact, it is normal for people to question even those who are related to them, even if they are loyal. Othello shows the consequences that may follow when an individual refuses to devote adequate time to question own sentiments prior to taking action.