To what extent can we say Othello's tragedy is caused by jealousy in Othello?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

On Othello's part, jealousy does not cause his downfall. While Iago certainly demonstrates jealousy toward both Othello and Cassio and uses that jealousy to propel his plot against the general and his lieutenant, it is Othello's poor judgment in trusting Iago that leads to his downfall. He even tells Iago that he is not a naturally jealous man and asks for "ocular" proof. If Othello had not allowed Iago to mislead him, if he had not been conditioned by the culture of the time to feel inferior because of his race, and if Desdemona would have defended her reputation, then his tragic downfall could have been avoided--jealousy on Othello's part does not play a part in the poor judgment, racial stereotypes, and naive timidity that result in such a tragic ending.