How does Emilia's remark about jealousy in Act III comment on the themes of the play Othello?

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sesmith5 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

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Emilia's comment also points out that jealousy does not need a cause.  It is a beast that is born of itself and feeds on itself.  She is letting Desdemona know that the root of jealousy is not some action of infidelity but insecurity on the part of the one jealous.  Throughout the play, Iago accuses Emilia of being unfaithful to him, just as Othello accuses Desdemona.  Emilia implies through this statement that she has never been untrue to Iago just as Desdemona has never been untrue to Othello.  Jealousy does not need an unfaithful act to inspire it.  It is part of a man or woman's nature. 

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kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

Her comments to Desdemona reflect the themes of jealousy leading to destruction because she addresses how jealousy affects men and how men treat women, etc.  Emilia is clearly bitter because of her dysfunctional relationship with Iago and because she has begun to see Othello's temper and his jealous side, as well.  Her comments also provide elements of foreshadowing, because Othello lets his jealousy get the best of him.  His jealousy drives him into a rage, which causes him to smother Desdemona, someone he loves more than life itself. He realizes, in the end, that he has made a huge mistake and that Desdemona was true to him.

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