Transformation of Othello in the Play

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Updated: Apr 07, 2023
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This essay seeks to discuss the question of how Othello changes throughout the play. From a man with an admiring and worthy nature, Othello’s character changes throughout the play into a frenzied, blathering, and illogical monster. Othello believes and asserts himself to be a man who “loved too much, but who wasn’t wise about it. I was not easily made jealous, but once I was tricked and manipulated, I worked myself into a frenzy.”(5.2.305-306). This quote claims that jealousy is a major theme in the play. It is the catalyst for Othello’s character change and is what motivates Othello to engage in the crime of killing his wife, Desdemona. Not only did jealousy cause Othello to carry out some shameful acts, but it also caused other characters, such as Iago, to become corrupted.

Iago’s jealousy of Othello drives him to dislike both Desdemona and Othello. Iago starts out by stating, “I hate the Moor, and there is a widespread rumor that he has slept with my wife. I’m not sure it’s true, but just the suspicion is enough for me.”(1.3.57-58). This quote shows Iago’s hatred for Othello because “the Moor” passed him over for a promotion, and he has heard a rumor that Othello has been having an affair with Iago’s wife, Emilia. Iago states that he doesn’t really know if the rumor is true, but he still proceeds to wreck Othello’s life anyway. Later in the play, Iago realizes that real proof of Desdemona’s supposed infidelity isn’t necessary because mere suspicion is enough to make Othello jealous, which later on destroys them both. He reveals this by saying, “To a jealous man, a meaningless little thing like this looks like absolute proof. This handkerchief may be useful to me.”(3.3.157-158). With all that being said, it’s clear that Iago’s jealousy also played a key part in Othello’s motives in the play.

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Othello’s misplaced trust in Iago, and the proof of Desdemona’s infidelity, drives the play to its dreadful end since honor and reputation are equally important to Othello. These events arouse his jealousy, and he then gets the proof he needs as he states, “I saw him holding the handkerchief! You liar, you’re turning my heart to stone, and making me call what I’ll do murder when I had been thinking of it as a sacrifice! I saw the handkerchief.”(5.2.277-278). Othello’s jealousy is on display with this quote, and it is a result of circumstances and manipulation.

In conclusion, jealousy plays a critical role in the play Othello. As you can see, it killed both Desdemona and Othello and corrupted Iago. Jealousy still plays a role in modern-day society, perhaps not to the same extent as the play, but still somewhat of the same nature. In today’s society, jealousy can be sparked by a potential threat to one’s mate, social standing, emotional and physical well-being, or resources. In some cases in today’s world, jealousy is handled in the same way as Othello handled his, by killing his spouse. Let this be a lesson to not let your jealousy encourage you to do irrational things. Although this play was written a long time ago, many of its themes are still very applicable in the modern world.

Frequently Asked Questions
How has the representation of Othello's character changed over time?

Throughout different adaptations and interpretations, Othello’s characterization has evolved in diverse ways. Some portrayals have depicted him as a more empathetic character, whereas others have depicted him as more sinister. Furthermore, his reasons and goals have been interpreted differently across various adaptations.

What happened to Othello as a result of his actions?

The tragic flaw of Othello was his jealousy which caused him to spiral into suspicion and paranoia. This state of mind drove him to the extreme step of killing his wife, Desdemona, before taking his own life.

How do you start an essay about Othello?

Oftentimes, it is difficult to know where to begin. However, with Othello, there are many different entry points one could take. For instance, one could discuss the title character’s background and how that affects his actions throughout the play. Alternatively, one could focus on Iago and his motives for destroying Othello.

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Transformation Of Othello In The Play. (2019, Dec 11). Retrieved from