Jealousy: It's a Killer!
When made jealous by an outside force, are you made the victim of that person, or a villain for not being able to overcome it? Can a person be held responsible for their actions in times of extreme jealousy, or is it like a state of insanity? Jealousy is an emotion like any other and can lead to irrational behavior, like any strong emotion. That does not mean it cannot be controlled, such as apathy in times of excitement for others close to you.
Just because Othello was a target of Iago and victimized by his many schemes, does not make him a victim. Othello was a villain because of his unwavering reliance in one source, his insecurity, and his unwillingness to openly discuss the matter at hand with the people the problem relates to. Othello’s first mistake was blindly trusting Iago. Though Othello had much reason to trust Iago, he also had much proof of Cassio’s loyalty in the past. The line, “O, thou art wise! ‘Tis certain”(IV.
i), shows how much trust Othello puts in Iago and this much trust in anybody can be dangerous. Othello does not discuss his suspicions openly and relies on only Iago for proof. The proof that Iago provides is not double checked by Othello and Othello does not try to find more information about Cassio and his relations with Bianca and how she might be involved in this mess. In situations such as these, a cool head should always be kept and facts checked personally. Because Othello does not check these facts, and Iago knows it, Iago keeps telling Othello what he wants by bending the truth, and most of the time, flat out lying.
Othello does not even question Iago’s statements, even though Cassio and Desdomona have been nothing but loyal to him. Iago changes the facts and presents them in such a way as to make Othello insanely jealous and suspicious that Cassio and Desdomona are having an affair. This makes Othello murderously angry, and he kills his wife and tell Iago to kill Cassio, which Iago gladly attempts, for nothing. All of this could have been avoided had Othello been a bit more careful. Therefore, once the seed had been planted, the consequences are then Othello’s fault for not controlling his jealousy, and blindly trusting and having no suspicions against Iago, even though he has worked for years and just been passed over for a promotion.
Secondly, Othello’s insecurities help lead him to blindly trusting Iago. Othello was insecure about his looks and age compared to Desdomona. Othello was much older than Desdomona and a Moor, while Desdomona was the town beauty and the most eligible bachelorette in town. She is also known to have a vivacious personality as Othello states in the line, “To say my wife is fair, feeds well, loves company, is free of speech, sings, plays, and dances well” (III.i). In the following lines tries to convince Iago that is proud of this personality in his wife, but his language indicates his resolve is slipping as he seems to try to convince himself that these characteristics are positive, and not a liability that will attract younger, more handsome men, multiple times throughout the play.
All Othello has is his stories and honor, which he says is what attracted Desdomona to him in the first place; but he loses even his honor by the end of the play, as a murderer. Othello should have forgotten his insecurities and been confident in himself and his wife, because as he said, “…she had eyes, and chose me” (III.i). Finally, when Othello married Desdomona, he made a promise, perhaps unsaid, to trust her, with and on everything, more than anybody in the world. Then why does Iago get the benefit of the doubt and Desdomona the short end of the stick? The line, “But to be free and bounteous to her mind” (I.
iii), shows that Othello respects Desdomona’s mind, and yet he still does not come to her when the seed is planted in his head about her cheating and ask for her side of the story. Othello also did not ask Cassio what was going on even when he trusted him enough to make Cassio his lieutenant, which is more than can be said about Iago. An open dialogue should be kept so that very person can defend themselves and every piece of information is out in the open. This way every person is fully informed and has time to protect and defend themselves. Othello does not do this and it leads to horrible consequences. Othello, though victimized by Iago, was the villain, not the victim in this situation.
Though put in an awkward position, he had the means to overcome it and find out the truth by not trusting Iago unconditionally, not being insecure, and not openly discussing the situation with the effected people. People handle stress and emotion in different ways. Some resort to violence while others use their minds and courage to solve and overcome the problem. Invoking jealousy is one of the easiest ways of testing a person’s character, as can be seen in Othello. When put to the test, you find out who a person really is. Knowing Othello’s true colors could have saved Desdomona from her terrible fate had she found out before she married him.
If put to the test, who would you be?