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othello and jealousy

            Throughout Shakespeare's Othello, the major theme of jealousy is apparent. According to Microsoft Bookshelf, jealousy, by definition, means "resentful or bitter in rivalry." The tragedy Othello focuses on the doom of Othello and the other major characters as a result of jealousy. The theme of jealousy is prominent throughout the play as it motivates the characters" actions. In Shakespeare's Othello, jealousy is portrayed through the major characters of Iago and Othello. It utterly corrupts their lives because it causes Iago to show his true self, which in turn triggers Othello to undergo an absolute conversion that destroys the lives of their friends. Iago, "most honest" (I, iii, 7) in the eyes of his companions, is, in fact, truly the opposite. His feelings of jealousy uncovers his actual self. D.R. Godfrey concludes this after hearing Iago state that he "ha" look"d upon the world for four times seven years" (I, iii, 311-2). In his essay, Godfrey explains that Iago "has arrived at one of the great seven year critical stages" (421) of his life, causing him to become "jealous, embittered, [and] vengeful." (421). Iago's dupe, Roderigo, is the only person, in fact, to know this previously; Iago tells Roderigo that he is "not what [he is]" (I, i, 69). He possesses this jealousy because he is distressed that Othello chose Michael Cassio, a "valiant" (II, i, 98), "Florentine arithmetician" (I, i, 19-20), over himself for the position of lieutenancy. Jealousy "divorces [Iago] from rationality", Godfrey states (418). This loss of rational causes Iago to "make a life of jealousy" (III, iii, 204) and plots to destroy Othello. Although Iago has a reputation of being "full of love and honesty" (III, iii, 138), he is responsible for destroying many lives and is considered "perhaps one of the most villainous characters in all literature" (Godfrey 422). Iago alludes to Othello that his wife, Desdemona, has been unfaithful with Cassio.

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