Jealousy and Treachery in Othello by Shakespeare
Desdemona, Emelia, Cassio, and Iago arrive at Cyprus after crossing the sea. Iago designs methods to use Cassio’s ladies’ pleasing qualities against him during the demonstration of his courtesy. Iago frequently mentions webs and how they ensnare Cassio and Othello. Cassio arrives, breaking the news of Othello’s marriage and lavishing adulation on Desdemona. Desdemona comes and awaits the arrival of Othello’s ship. We meet Emelia, Iago’s wife, at this point. Desdemona defends her when Iago attacks her, but Iago merely goes on to enumerate the flaws of women. When Othello comes, he and Desdemona rekindle their affection and passion. The Turkish fleet has been defeated, Othello informs everyone.
Iago convinces Roderigo that Desdemona loves Cassio in order to elicit jealousy, the theme which stands out the most in the act. Iago persuades Roderigo to instigate a fight with Cassio that night when he is on the night watch. Iago’s ideas are revealed in a soliloquy at the close of the act. He admits to being smitten by Desdemona. He also admits that he thinks Othello had an affair with his wife, Emelia. “Wife for wife,” Iago intends to make it even (Shakespeare, 38). Iago further admits that he believes Cassio slept with his wife as well.
This act demonstrates the villainous nature of Iago that stems from jealousy and his misogynistic and sexist characteristics. His desire to defame Othello and Cassio is also seen but could be considered closer to the obsession stemming from an inferiority complex and personal insecurities. He demonstrates his horrendous lust for possession of Desdemona’s body, not considering her feelings or consent. In contrast, Cassio and Othello as positive characters of the play, exhibit politeness, trust, and just nature. Cassio also shows his playful nature with Desdemona while waiting for the ship’s arrival and teasing Emilia.
Shakespeare, William, and Russ McDonald. The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice. New York: Penguin Books, 2001. Print.