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Explore Shakespeare's presentation of jealousy in 'Othello'

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Explore Shakespeare's presentation of jealousy in 'Othello' Shakespeare uses jealousy as a central theme throughout the play, without this aggressive and destructive emotion, there would be no solid plot. Shakespeare demonstrates how terrifying jealousy can be and that its has perhaps unnatural qualities. Shakespeare often refers to jealousy as a devouring emotion, "O beware, my lord of jealousy! It is the green eyed monster which doth mock, The meat it feeds on." Shakespeare uses this to give the emotion a sense of being devoured or devouring. This fits in extremely well with Iago's description of Othello as being "eaten up with passion." This suggests exactly how strong Othello's monumental jealousy really is, once Othello becomes convinced that his wife is unfaithful Iago continues to feed his jealousy which causes Othello to indeed behave like a monster. However, its dramatic irony that Iago says this to Othello. The audience knows that Iago is perhaps the one "eaten up," with jealousy and Othello is none the wiser to this. However unlike Othello, Iago has a different forms of jealousy he holds; the form of personal and professional jealousy. ...read more.


As an audience we are led to feel that Othello's jealousy is motivated not by hatred but by affection to his love Desdemona. This is different to Iago's jealousy he is motivated by Cassio's promotion and the feeling he's been 'cuckolded' by Cassio. Despite this the Othello and Iago do have a similarity they are both led by possessiveness. Both men become jealous because they have lost something that they hold dear to them. In spite of this both Emilia and Desdemona insist they are faithful to both their men, Emilia even describes jealousy as "monstrous" an emotion that destroys love, honour and nobility to those who it affects. It seems that within the play the nature of jealousy is not one to gain contentment. Iago seems to continue plotting against Cassio even after publicly humiliating him in Cyprus and Iago is not content on disturbing Othello's mind but continues until Desdemona is dead. Shakespeare uses jealousy to display how terrifying an average man can become when jealousy takes its firm grip on both Othello who destroys his wife, and Iago who is ultimately responsible for the death of Desdemona. ...read more.


Nature would not invest herself in such shadowing passion without some instruction. Its not words that shakes me thus. Pish! Noses, ears and lips. Is't possible? Confess handkerchief! O devil!" Previously in all of Othello's speeches he spoke in the 1st or 3rd person this demonstrated to the audience his nobility and security, whereas the use of pronouns in this speech suggest his insecurity. Also towards the end of the speech O "Pish! Noses ears and lips." We struggle to make sense of Othello's language, these lines demonstrate that jealousy has not only degraded his attitude but has broken down a strong willed man's language. Shakespeare uses jealousy in Othello to demonstrate just how powerful the emotion can be within our lives. Jealousy results in the downfall of one man and almost all of those around him. Shakespeare integrates the emotion into the play almost as if it had been experienced by himself, this allows the audience of 'Othello' to have empathy and relate to the characters. This is a strong dramatic device which draws the audience into the play to observe first hand the jealous destruction of Othello, through his own and Iago's emotion. ?? ?? ?? ?? Ross Sambrook: Explore Shakespeare's Presentation Of Jealousy in Othello ...read more.

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Here's what a star student thought of this essay

4 star(s)

Response to the question

The essay responds superbly to this question, and this is evident from the concise introduction. I liked how there was no unnecessary contextual information, as this becomes a popular way to introduce an essay at GCSE level. I would've liked ...

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Response to the question

The essay responds superbly to this question, and this is evident from the concise introduction. I liked how there was no unnecessary contextual information, as this becomes a popular way to introduce an essay at GCSE level. I would've liked jealously to have been defined in the introduction, as it is often a term which has a number of connotations. What is particularly strong about this essay is the awareness that Shakespeare is using jealousy for a reason, rather than just acknowledging that it is present in the play.

Level of analysis

The analysis in this essay is strong, although it is a shame that long quotes are included and not embedded at times. What I particularly like about this essay is the close analysis on language and imagery used in the quotes - the essay has the sophistication to suggest what the images could mean, and it is a great skill to display that multiple interpretations exist. The constant reference to the audience response is what gains this essay high marks. I would note that at times this essay narrates, bulking the audience response discussion into a paragraph, so as an improvement it should be more thoroughly integrated. However, the discussion of dramatic effect on stage is excellent in this essay, and I was pleased to see a clear understanding of Iago's stage presence.

Quality of writing

This essay is structured particularly well, having a clear and concise introduction and a strong conclusion. I liked how each paragraph started with a short signpost which meant the paragraph stayed on focus throughout. I do have a slight query with using "we" in an essay, as this can be easily replaced with "the audience" to sound more sophisticated. There are virtually no flaws in spelling, punctuation and grammar. This is a strong essay indeed!

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Reviewed by groat 19/02/2012

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