Jealousy in Othello

“I had rather be a toad, and live upon the vapor of a dungeon, than keep a corner in the thing I love for others’ uses.” Shakespeare is shedding light on the jealous nature of the human species. As Iago says, “O beware, my lord, of jealousy! It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.” In Othello it plagues the moor especially because all the evidence against his wife Desdemona is purely circumstantial. He finds her infidelity hard to accept, and the sense of doubt that pervades his person tortures his existence. He pleads with Iago to rest his mind and “give me the ocular proof.” Initially he has the sense to not accept circumstantial evidence as cold hard proof, but ultimately he relents and gives over to Iago’s malevolent persuasions. He doesn’t give in only because of Iago’s convincingness but because of the jealous emotion mingled with it. It would seem that even if Iago was half as convincing, the sheer magnitude of Othello’s jealousy would over-daub any reason there present and confirm the notion that jealousy in humans reaches the confines of superfluousness all too quickly.

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