In Shakespeare's Othello, why does lago transfer his jealousy to Othello in order to bring about his ruin?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Iago transfers his jealousy to Othello because he feels that Othello should share the pain and rejection that he feels over not having been appointed lieutenant.  When the position was announced, Iago assumed that he would be named lieutenant because of his previous service to Othello.  However, Michael Cassio receives the promotion, and this angers Iago because Cassio is much younger than him and Cassio is not as close to Othello as Iago is.  Iago feels that Othello has disrespected his character and spited his name, so he thinks that his plot for revenge is justified.  In his scheming, Iago plans to make Othello feel just as jealous of Cassio as he does, so this is why Iago baits Cassio with the embroidered handkerchief.  And Othello does end up feeling a jealous rage towards Cassio, although, of course, for a different reason.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial