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Feelings of jealousy can cause a person to accept all risks in order to achieve what they desire. From the beginning to the end of Shakespeare’s tragedy “Othello”, it is evident that Iago is the chief evildoer of the story. From the outset, he starts to develop an evil plan to devastate Othello’s life, even though Othello has never done any harm to him personally. This causes the reader to ponder why some people are so eager to bring misery without any rational reason. The implicit answer to this question is that Iago is driven by jealousy, so he seeks revenge, harbors a profound hatred for others, and desperately desires power and influence.
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Iago as the embodiment of jealousy in the Othello
Jealousy has the ability to generate in a person the feeling of thirst for revenge. From the start of the play, Iago is determined to get revenge on Othello for betraying him. He considers that he is worthy of the post of lieutenant over Cassio and believes that he has to do something about it. He also states: “Others there are who, trimmed in forms and visages of duty, keep yet their hearts attending on themselves and, throwing but shows of service on their lords.” In this statement he is saying to Roderigo that this is exactly how he will behave towards Othello. Another cause why Iago seeks vengeance on Othello is that he displays concerns and suspicions that Othello has slept with his wife Emilia. In Act II, Iago claims: “For that I do suspect the lusty Moor hath leaped into my seat. The thought whereof doth, like a poisonous mineral, gnaw my inwards, and nothing shall content my soul till I am evened with him, wife for wife.” This quote is an illustration that he is disheartened that Othello can sleep with Emilia, and he seeks revenge on him. He clarifies that he will achieve this by trying to sleep with Desdemona. Iago is a wicked person who manages to hurt everyone. This allows him to clearly play with people’s lives, because he exploits their vulnerabilities for his own benefit. Jealousy is Othello’s flaw, so Iago understands that getting him jealous is the excellent opportunity to take revenge on him. The idea of revenge on Othello delights Iago and enhances one of the key driving motives for the fulfillment of the plan.
Iago is a vicious man who feels undisguised anger towards others and worries about no one but himself. His negativity towards others encourages him to produce his plans for life, because he experiences satisfaction from the awareness of human suffering. He is so envious of Othello and Cassio that he performs everything to make their lives miserable. If he had any compassion for them, he would never devise a plan to ruin them, but his jealousy stands in the way and tempts him to carry it out. Once Othello enters the scene, he and Desdemona kiss and Iago looks away and states: “Oh, you are well tuned now, but I’ll set down the pegs that make this music.” This quote reveals that he will bring an end to their happiness and is proof that Iago is waiting to see them suffer. He equally makes demeaning remarks towards women and Othello because he is black. He demonstrates no regard for people and easily despises others for no reason or out of jealousy. If Iago was not envious, he would rejoice in the achievements of his friends instead of scorning them for achieving more than him.
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Despite the fact that Iago performs a significant role in the play, his position in society does not give him any influence. The absence of authority in his work makes him desperate to search for other means of commanding people, as he is irritated that others are telling him what to do. That is why he contemplates a plan of manipulation that will not offer him any significant benefits. He is suspicious to the core of his soul of how much power Othello has, so he becomes addicted to playing with people’s destinies to eventually be able to make others do what he wills. In Act II, Iago encourages Cassio to get drunk and wreak havoc, which enables him to exploit him while he is feeble. In a conversation with the reader alone, Iago speaks: “If I can fasten but one cup upon him, with that which he hath drunk tonight already, he’ll be as full of quarrel and offense as my young mistress’ dog.” This quote indicates that he is using Cassio’s drunken condition to his benefit, causing him to cause chaos in order to get him out of his position. When Othello appears on the scene, he is enraged and dismisses Cassio. At this moment in the performance, Iago experiences that his plan is finally paying off because Cassio is ultimately out of his job. This plan enables him to gain power and satisfy his addiction to manipulating others to make himself feel important.
As a result, Iago’s jealousy manipulates him to unacceptable actions and makes him uncontrollable. This is an illustration of how strongly jealousy can determine human behavior. Iago’s envious thoughts make him hate others, absorb him with dreams of power and provide him with an incredible thirst for revenge. These inner emotions lead to tragic consequences such as the deaths of Othello, Desdemona, Emilia and Roderigo. Dissatisfaction with Iago’s life causes him to feel jealousy, which is the core of his primary motivations. Jealousy produces tragedy too easily.