• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Othello Coursework

Extracts from this document...


Jealousy and Tragic Flaws in Othello Othello is one of William Shakespeare's most well-known plays and is considered one of the finest tragedies he ever wrote. It is a tale of jealousy, personal motivation, and betrayal. The characters of Iago and Othello are set against each other in a relationship rife with jealousy and suspicion that brings out the worst in each man. Shakespeare illustrates vividly how the spiteful actions of others against us can bring out our own negative character flaws, and how both of these elements can contribute to one's undoing. In the play, it is Iago's greedy drive for revenge and his need to watch Othello's disgrace that lead to Othello's downfall, but Othello's own tragic character flaws of jealousy and distrust contribute equally to his undoing. Othello tells the story of a black man, or Moor, who is a military general and married to a woman named Desdemona. The antagonist in the play is Iago, an ensign serving under Othello who is jealous of Othello's ranking and his marriage to the lovely Desdemona but also resentful that Othello has passed him over for promotion to lieutenant in favor of Cassio. Iago is determined to ruin Othello. Iago makes several strong statements that indicate that his jealousy towards Othello is mostly sexual in nature. Shakespeare conveys the crudeness of Iago's thoughts and feelings towards the relationship between Othello and Desdemona by using a lot of animal imagery and references to sexual relations between common animals when describing talking to others, including Desdemona's own father. ...read more.


There is no strong action here, but Shakespeare succeeds in making the exchange meaningful by using the stage direction of Cassio leaving and Iago's lines that implicate them both. Here, as in many of Shakespeare's tragedies, the final tragic action is begun with a single action and thought. This is the point at which Othello suspects Desdemona of being unfaithful, and Iago's planting of that seed of doubt is what leads to the tragic end. Iago utilizes severe imagery and hints at the devil, hell and damnation to manipulate Othello's thoughts towards negative and dangerous thinking. He repeatedly references monsters and demons, including the imagery of jealousy as, "the green eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on" (3.3. 170-71). When he starts to plant thoughts in Othello's head that there have been acts of infidelity between Cassio and Desdemona, he uses shocking sexual imagery and frank sexual references to paint Desdemona as wanton and lustful. He tells Othello, "It is impossible you should see this, were they prime as goats, as hot as monkeys, as salt as wolves in pride..." (3.3.402-05). This vulgar imagery makes Othello think of Cassio and Desdemona having sex, and the seeds of doubt and anger are planted. Iago also tells Othello, who has demanded physical evidence of Desdemona's infidelity, that he overheard Cassio saying Desdemona's name in his sleep when the two men were sharing a bed, and that after her name was uttered Cassio threw his arm and leg over Iago like a lover. ...read more.


The play could have ended much differently if the only person responsible for Othello's downfall was Iago. If Othello was stronger, less gullible and more trusting in his wife, he might have allowed her to explain what had happened instead of referring to their marriage as, "Thy bed, lust-stained, shall with lust's blood be spotted" (5.1.37, 108) and killing Desdemona and then himself. Instead, he chooses to believe the scheming Iago and condemns both his beloved Desdemona and then himself out of guilt. Emilia is used as the character foil to show how Othello could have been strong in the last moments when she stands up to Iago, in spite of Iago's threats of physical violence, and tells him, ""You told a lie, an odious, damned lie!" (5.2.187, 120). She refuses to stop talking until the truth is completely told and Desdemona has been vindicated. It is only then that Othello realizes how he has been manipulated and how he has accused and murdered Desdemona with no proof or reason. The truth was there for him to see all along, but he chose not to see it until it was too late and the damage was fatally done. Shakespeare presents Iago as the representation of trouble-making and evil caused by resentment and spite. Iago represents a cautionary statement about letting oneself be manipulated by pride and jealousy. But in Othello, Shakespeare also relates that one's own character flaws can be just as dangerous and contribute equally to one's self-destruction. Othello allowed his own personal insecurities to cloud his judgment. In the end, his character flaws were just as evil, and just as fatal, as Iago's actions. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Othello section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Othello essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    All of the characters who experience misfortune in Othello bring it upon themselves. Discuss ...

    4 star(s)

    Oh, inhuman dog!? (5.1.64). Desdemona, the innocent wife of Othello, came to demonstrate striking submissiveness and a precarious type of naivety which brought her to an imminent and almost foreshadowed death. The early scenes of the play, however, display otherwise; before she exhibited a bold, independent personality by marrying Othello, being racially different in their Venetian society.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Explore the ways in which Iago destroys the relationship between Desdemona and Othello

    4 star(s)

    with Cassio and to continually make Othello think is and remind him of it. To continue with his plan of destroying the relationship, Iago proceeds to get Cassio drunk despite knowing that he has "very poor and unhappy brains for drinking."

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Discuss how Iago manipulates language to achieve his aims

    3 star(s)

    strange indigity' convince Cassio that Iago is still loyal to him, this is essential to the next 'stage' of Iago's plot. He also includes a weak justification for Cassio's actions, 'But men are men' which prompts Othello to believe that Iago's 'honesty and love doth mince this matter', further placing

  2. Explore the presentation of the relationship between Othello and Iago

    By spells and medicines," as she could never willingly marry a Moor. Roderigo refers to him as "the thicklips'" and Iago constantly suggests to him that he is naive about the ways of Venetian women and Venetian society at large.

  1. How does Shakespeare present Iago?

    Iago however never truly looks at his own character; he uses many faces and even swears 'by Janus' and through all these disguises and personas seems to have lost 'Iago' and has become lost, not knowing who he truly is.

  2. An Exploration of Imagery in Othello

    Ironically, Othello casts himself here as God's advocate as he sees his wife as a corrupt sinner, whereas in reality he will be 'damned' for her unjust murder. Further evidence of Iago's influence on Othello can be perceived as the imagery of monsters is also used by both Othello and Iago.

  1. Free essay

    To what extent is Iago responsible for the downfall of other characters in Othello?

    Here he has played on Roderigo's love for Desdemona and managed to ensure that he travels to Cyprus. For Iago, Roderigo's presence there is vital as he unknowingly becomes a puppet in Iago's game, carrying out deeds Iago himself is unwilling to.

  2. Importance of military in Othello

    Othello rather solemnly states he is "no more" his lieutenant, suggesting that those that lose their honour must be dismissed as a customary practice. Othello states he will make Cassio "an example", despite the close relationship the two formerly shared.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work