Love and jealousy in Othello by Shakespeare.

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mstultz72's profile pic

mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I respectfully disagree with the previous poster.  Jealousy is present before and during the play.  We don't see the wedding.  We only hear the jealous conversations outside it.  We don't have access to the honeymoon suit.  We only see the fighting outside it.  There is no eros (love) in their bedroom, only theros (death).  The play is more about jealousy than love.  In fact, I'm not sure we see love at all in the play.

Before the play begins: Iago is jealous of Othello.  Rogerigo is jealous of Othello.  Brabantio is jealous of Othello.  Othello is jealous of Cassio.  Emilia may be jealous of Desdemona.

I don't think Othello loved Desdemona at all.  It is certainly not a perfect love.  He publicly says he loves her in Act I, but does he show it privately?  We are being deceived, just like Brabantio.  Other critics agree: Salman Rushdie, in The New Yorker, (July 2001) calls her death an "honor killing":

Othello doesn't love Desdemona...He says he does, but it can't be true.  Because if he loves her, the murder makes no sense.  For me, Desdemona is Othello's trophy wife, his most valuable and status-giving possession, the physical proof of his risen standing in a white man's world.  You see?  He loves that about her, but not her...Desdemona's death is an "honor killing."  She didn't have to be guilty; the accusation was enough.  The attack on her virtue was incompatible with Othello's honor.  She's not even a person to him.  He has reified her.  She's his Oscar-Barbie statuette.  His doll.

Othello loves his reputation.  That's why he effectively divorces Desdemona in Act III and marries Iago as a blood brother and co-murderer.  He loves men, because of their status, namely white men: Cassio and Iago.  He wants to be like them.  He certainly treats Desdemona like the way Iago treats Emilia and Cassio treats Biancha.  As property.

coachingcorner's profile pic

coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

Love existed already as Shakespeare's play 'Othello' opened - jealousy didn't. Jealousy could not have existed without the inrtroduction of one other very important element- doubt! This is where the dastardly Iago comes in - as part of his evil scheme (as he also is jealous) he plants that seed of unfaithfulness (that concerns every sweetheart) to poison the pure love that Othello and Desdemona have for one another. He finds Othello's 'achilles heel' of weakness (low self-esteem in regard to experience in love and his age/attractiveness/color) and plays it like an instrument with skill, precision and utter ruthless control. Othello is jealous of his younger rival,yes, but Iago could also be said to be jealous of Othello and the others whom Othello might prefer  and so pass him over. He extracts a deep and painful revenge:

It was Desdemona's love that was perfect. She loved him as the play started.

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