The Outcomes Of Jealousy And Corruption In Othello By William Shakespeare
It is part of human nature to be jealous when another individual possesses the love one wishes to obtain. When jealousy occurs, one will do everything in their power to acquire the love they wish to possess. Unrequited love is one that is crushing to the individual that harnesses the feeling, and therefore can lead to extreme measures. These extreme measures may include seeking revenge due to a corrupted mind. In the play Othello by William Shakespeare, corruption unrolls in a domino effect prompting different characters to become corrupt, leading to poor decisions and downfall of relationships.
A corrupt person has the willingness to act to dishonesty or alter their state of mind from outside influences. For instance, Roderigo’s love for Desdemona is pure since the beginning of the play, but later on it became corrupted when Iago convinced him that he should perform various evil deeds to Cassio, of all people, to get Desdemona to stay in Cyprus and fall in love with him. Roderigo is the most vulnerable character; his love for Desdemona is what makes him so desperate and he does anything Iago says, to have her for himself. In the beginning of the play, we learn that Roderigo’s love for Desdemona is genuine. However, as Othello and Desdemona get more close, Roderigo starts to become desperate and persistent.
The worser welcome/ I have charg’d thee not to haunt about my doors/
In honest plainness thou hast heard me say My daughter is not for thee/
And now in madness/
Being full of support and distempering draughts/
Upon malicious bravery dost thou come To start my quiet.
Roderigo displays affection for Desdemona however Brabantio, Desdemona’s father, does not accept him as worthy. Furthermore, Iago plays mind games with Roderigo and with his ability to manipulate people and continues to give Roderigo false hope about Desdemona. Roderigo falls for lago’s mind games and manipulation.
“But/ Roderigo/ if thou hast that in thee indeed/
which I have greater reason to believe now than ever — I mean purpose/
courage and valor — this night show it/
If thou the next night following enjoy not Desdemona/
take me from this world with treachery and devise engines for my life.” During Iago and Roderigo’s conversation Iago promises Roderigo that he will have Desdemona the next night, if not he would kill him. Iago knows how desperate Roderigo is at this point which is why he makes such an offer as he knows this will satisfy him. First, Roderigo objects and asks Iago, as he has lost all hope in marrying Desdemona, he turns on lago, blaming him, but Iago uses different forms of manipulation with each character so that he can advance his scheme to bring down Othello and Cassio. Iago quickly convinces Roderigo and makes him kill Cassio. Iago knows that Roderigo is emotionally unstable and he is not thinking rationally, so Iago takes full advantage of this situation. For instance, ‘Oh/no/ he goes into Mauritania and taketh away with him the fair Desdemona/unless his abode be lingered here by some accident — wherein none can be so determinate as the removing of Cassio’. When lago proposed the offer to Roderigo, he asks something in return from him, he asks Roderigo to kill Cassio and put the blame on Othello. Therefore promoting an opportunity to have Desdemona all to himself. Thus, Iago gives Roderigo eternal hope of having Desdemona, with time Roderigo gets more desperate for that promise to be filled and that leads him almost to killing Cassio. As a result, when one loves an individual and they don’t receive an expected initial response they desperately try to receive a response. As Roderigo was ready even to kill someone in order to gain love for Desdemona.
Throughout the play, the women play a significant role. Shakespeare shows us all different types of women and Emilia is one of the unique characters. Emilia’s trust in men is shattered, which leads her to believe that all men will cheat on their wives. Unlike all the other women in the play, Emilia understands how men think, and she believes if a man can cheat on his wife, then his wife can do the same. Certainly, trust does not exist in their relationship. Iago uses Emilia as his tool. Iago has neither the desire nor the ability to love anything or anybody. Emilia’s trust in men is corrupted because of her husband. Iago never upheld the responsibility of keeping Emilia happy which leads her to not being able to trust other men. Iago has dishonoured Emilia several times, for example, ‘Sir/ would she give you so much of her lips/ As of her tongue she oft bestows on me/ You’ll have enough.’ Iago is insulting Emillia as he tells Cassio that if she gave you the amount of kisses on the lips she gave me, you would be sick of it by now. Secondly, Emilia was conditioned to have a conception of believing that all men are unfaithful and have a very negative opinion of women. Which leads Emilia to think that all men will always think of women as “whores” and never respect them. Iago’s sincerter mind often places him in situation in which he undermines women. ‘Come on/ come on. You are pictures out of door/ bells in your parlors/ wild-cats in your kitchens/ saints in your injuries/devils being offended/players in your housewifery, and housewives in your beds’. Iago is describing his misogynistic opinions. Lastly, Emilia thinks that all men are lustful for women, and when they get bored, they replace them with other women. Emilia gives her opinion on men “Let husbands know/ Their wives have sense like them/ They see/ and smell And have their palates both for sweet and sour/ As husbands have/ What is it that they do/ When they change us for others/ Is it a sport/ I think it is’. According to society, the way the gender roles are placed is that women are supposed to act is that women are to be housewives for men to be satisfied. From the way, perceives the roles of men and women, Emilia believed that it’s not fair that men were able to sleep with other women while women were not. Moreover, if the women were to cheat their husband, it is considered wrong while for the men it is not, and it was blamed on the women regardless of the situation. Emilia has a strong moral value for gender equality which is why she thinks whatever a man is capable of doing a woman should be too. Therefore, due to her husband’s infidelity, and the double standards placed on women in general, Emilia feels as if she cannot trust any men because of her husband and his betrayal.
Othello’s dream of a happy marriage with Desdemona is destroyed when Iago fills Othello’s head with lies. The corruption of this dream eventually leads to the destruction of their marriage. Throughout the play, it shows that Othello never truly loves Desdemona, but rather he was just in love with the idea of love. For example, in the beginning, Othello was pleased with his marriage;
She loved me for the dangers I had passed/
And I loved her that she did pity them/
This only is the witchcraft I have used/
Here comes the lady/
Let her witness it.’
Othello is telling the Duke how Desdemona fell in love with him. He talks very honestly and tells the Duke how much he loves Desdemona. However, Othello’s dream is soon over when Iago starts to manipulate him into thinking that Desdemona is cheating on him and corrupts Othello’s mind. ‘Cassio/ my lord! No/ sure/ I cannot think it,’ Iago is planting the idea that Cassio is guilty of something in Othello’s head without directly saying. Othello is concluding on his own. Furthermore, Iago does not stop here, and his manipulation eventually is the reason for the destruction of Othello and Desdemona’s marriage. The cause of this was Iago as he plants seeds of doubt and keeps manipulating Othello which led Othello to believe that his wife Desdemona is cheating on him with Cassio, his close friend. For example, ‘Was this fair paper, this most goodly book, Made to write “whore” upon? What committed? Committed? O thou public commoner! Here Othello address Desdemona as a “whore” which makes a powerful impact due to the context in regards to their relationship. Othello insults Desdemona verbally and physically when he slaps her in front of everyone, and that is how he eventually succeeds in killing her. As a result, love can be very strong but if there is not enough trust in that relationship, then that love will eventually fade.
Therefore, in William Shakespeare’s play Othello, it is apparent that Iago is a corrupted man, which further corrupts other characters including Othello, Roderigo, and Emilia. This leads them to have corrupted minds, consequently to the downfall of their relationships. As a result, love is corrupted through manipulation of others and also one starving to attain the love they’ve lost. It is shown that their supposedly true love is infected by many factors. Othello as well as many other characters are clear examples of love lost to Iago’s corruption due to his own desires. They could have not fallen for his tricks if all of them had realize that their seemingly love for Iago was fake and lead to them ruining their own faithful loves. Iago teaches the effects of corruption as well as jealousy when one trusts blindly.
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