The weapon called Jealousy
You cannot, if my heart were in your hand,
Nor shall not, whilst ’tis in my custody.
Oh, beware, my lord, of jealousy!
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on. That cuckold lives in bliss
Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger,
But, oh, what damnèd minutes tells he o'er
Who dotes, yet doubts— suspects, yet soundly loves!
Poor and content is rich, and rich enough,
But riches fineless is as poor as winter
To him that ever fears he shall be poor.
Good heaven, the souls of all my tribe defend
(Othello, Act 3, Sc 3, lines 192-207)
Jealousy has always been considered a destructive and in the same time deadly feeling. In “Othello” by Shakespeare it is embedded in the whole play and it serves maybe the most important role in the development of the action, such that in the end it turns to be annihilative as well. The passage above, a dialogue between Othello and Iago, has a very significant meaning and position in the novel as a whole. Its importance is that it introduces for the first time the theme of jealousy in the book clearly, which in the previous pages has been shadowed by the author with the purpose to increase the tension in the action and also to keep the reader in suspicion for the future happenings.
The passage analyzed has a great value for the story not only because it represents the theme of jealousy, but also because in it we can see the interrelationship between Iago and Othello and the strong manipulative behavior of the antagonist. The villain manages to hide his true goals and as seen is able to turn the noble and respected Moor into a marionette in his hands. His game is lit and supported by the internal feeling of jealousy that he has created in the husband of Desdemona towards her actions. Without any sweat and harshness, Iago creates a series of lies, all well connected, creating a web from which even the bravest and strongest men cannot escape. He does not feel respect or possesses any moral values. Thus he is free in his action and has no limits in the destruction he may cause not only for his master, but all the people around him. The quote:”You cannot, if my heart were in your hand”(line 192) support the idea that his cruelty and manipulative behavior has not only turned out to be stronger than expected, but also have been able to fool anyone he chooses. In this rather soliloquy of Iago we can see and understand clearly his goals and desires. By playing with the mind of his master and his only weakness-Desdemona, he is creating a conspiracy which end probably would be devastating. However, the writer very well describes the methods of Iago and even implies on them so they can stand out from the text. Phrases such as” Good heaven, the souls of all my tribe defend from Jealousy!”(lines 205-206) only reinforce the villain’s supremacy over the mental judgment of the people around him. Also the exclamation mark stands for a more dramatic meaning and emphasis of the words themselves. The acting of the antagonist can also be seen through this episode of the action. As a whole, Iago’s nature is illustrated very carefully and in details in this excerpt from the novel through his own words and actions and the theme of jealousy.
Jealousy as a theme on which Shakespeare depends and it serve a great importance not only for developing a certain situation or a motive, but to create a whole story. Its significance is very big, not only because by it an entire community is fooled and thrown into a conspiracy, but because it causes blindness and damage to the people who fell under his state. In this passage the theme is even named directly which lead to though that for the first time it is represented officially to the reader. Also it is called a “green-eyed monster” which only strengthens its meaning and consequences. From another point of view the theme of jealousy is not represented only in Iago’s behavior, but we can also see it in Othello words and expressions. It is shown how even only a though in the mind can affect someone so much and drive him to anything. In this particular moment the reader becomes a witness of the poisoning of Othello’s brain, thus turning him later on into one of the many marionettes. In the passage the author puts the bases of the newly developed way of communication between the different characters- through jealousy. Entered once, it cannot be removed by simple force of the will or though, it carves the person from the inside and drives him to his own psychological limits. As shown in the last few lines of the passage, the personage of Othello, one faced in person the jealousy factor itself, begins to change and later on develop in greater dimensions. It is clear that since the most noble and respected Moor has fallen into the hands of his own servant, there is merely no one who can resist the villain’s influence. Thus Shakespeare very well have chosen his weapon of choice, which in this case turns out to be a powerful feeling, capable of radical results. This is shown and supported by the passage not only because the theme itself is introduced in it, but because it serves a basis, the beginning of a new phase in the relationships between the characters