In Othello one of the main themes is unsubstantiated or partially substantiated jealousy; or otherwise put a suspicious mind. All of the jealousy in the character Othello is derived by the evil and dishonest Iago. I’d like to draw a metaphor which might bring to light what having a suspicious mind might be like to go through for Othello. I use the comparison of a hypochondriac. The hypochondriac is constantly consumed by thoughts of ill health, but every time they try and find out what is actually wrong, they come up empty, but this doesn’t in the least discourage them from thinking something is wrong with them. They still feel uneasy, and ultimately they feel like something is still wrong with them. They are always looking for signs of something being wrong. Seek and ye shall find, and when they find something wrong, they pat themselves on the back with proud affirmation, but then as soon as they find that something wrong, the symptom disappears or changes into something else that stumps them. Iago is like this disease in the play. Everything he says regarding Desdemona’s loyalty is a malignant fabrication. Partially substantiated jealousy works the same way. It is a vicious cycle. Othello is constantly looking for evidence that Desdemona is disloyal, hence he finds it, but he never finds “the ocular proof” he is looking for. All he finds is circumstantial possibilities. Then he goes back to the drawing board, but each time he does, his suspicious and jealous mind aggrandizes. He never finds peace. His mind is in a state of perpetual uneasiness, and his condition gets worse and worse ’till his unfortunate suicide. The peace he finally achieves is to die upon a kiss in his beloved’s arms.
In Macbeth the title character becomes evil and more evil by degrees until he is completely shrouded in a hell. When mammals taste blood; they gradually get more and more vicious until there’s no other choice but to end the viciousness. Once Macbeth tastes the blood of King Duncan (metaphorically) he can’t stop; that blood aldulterates his state of mind and he becomes restless, guilty and ripe for further evil. As someone states:
“Unnatural deeds do breed unnatural troubles.”
From the murder of King Duncan on, one misdeed leads to another with death as its only probable outcome.
A good metaphor for Macbeth’s situation; he’s like a gambler who’s had an incredible winning streak one day and comes back days later (expecting things to go the same way). After he loses what he has won and is left with his mere principal money, he has to decide whether to play it safe and realize you can’t win ’em all, or go for broke and leave his horns without a case, but HE CAN’T STOP!. He’s gotten a taste and will inevitably lose all.
When Macbeth attains the title of Thane of Cawdor he’s won a great deal, but when his murderous ways begin to take hold, he becomes resigned to his fate.
“I am in blood stepped in so far that, should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er.”
He lacks the temperance to reform. His initial status of a noble warrior is tainted by the promising success of the weird sisters and dominoes into his demise.
Caliban’s comrades are scared of the music they hear because they can’t figure out where it is coming from. Caliban assures them that there is actually no need to fear. What appears to be some sort of witchcraft to them is actually just a quality of the isle [supplied from Prospero’s sprite Ariel] which offers an interesting metaphor of things not being as they seem. Caliban goes on to tell his friends that these sounds are not only no reason to be afeard but have the essence of magic, causing the clouds in his dreams to “open and show riches.” So very magical were these dreams that Caliban refers to a time when he wanted nothing more than to return to the vivid and wakeful sleep that he so meticulously remembers [that when I waked I cried to dream again]. Trinculo, Calaiban and Stephanos’ hysterics throughout the play propagated by Prospero and his sprite Ariel, is to me a metaphor of fearing what we don’t understand. Because they can think of no possible way their very own song could be produced from the picture of nobody, they panic. I’m immediately reminded of the phenomenon of an echo. The drunken fellows fail to realize that they are on hallowed ground. They should show a personal respect for this cape [body of land extending into water: a relatively rare geograpical phenemonon], the very body of land that spared their life. Instead of trying to adapt to their hard condition, they abide in chaos. They choose fear over love, [not out of of choice] but because that is all they know.
Oh, me! What fray was here?
Yet tell me not, for I have heard it all.
Here’s much to do with hate, but more with love.
Why, then, O brawling love, O loving hate,
O anything of nothing first create,
O heavy lightness, serious vanity,
Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms,
Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health,
Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is!
This love feel I, that feel no love in this.
Many of this language seems to be an oxymoron at first glance, but if we really think about some of this language it might make some sense. What could “brawling love” mean? Perhaps it could be love of country for soldiers going to war to protect their country’s freedom and to show love of their country through enduring violence. Or “loving hate” could be a governor denying a pardon of a condemned criminal to show their love for a safe and free land. Or a “feather of lead” could symbolize how a seemingly small thing can weigh us down. There are many possible interpretations to these examples, and to think of possible meanings for them is a great exercise in critical thinking. The more we ponder over them the more that seems to come to mind. When we hear these lines spoken at conversational speed we may draw a blank, though we can still appreciate their poetic quality. I would love to hear in the comments if someone has any possible interpretations of any of the pardoxical phrases used in this speech from Romeo and Juliet. Have a Bard-tastic day!