Othello: Iago - "O, beware, my lord, of Jealousy"

This essay is about William Shakespeare\'s Othello. It focuses on Iago\'s
words to Othello, “O, beware, my lord, of Jealousy. It is the green-eyed
monster.” in act 3, scene 3 and just how important this warning was not only for
Othello, but also for Roderigo and for Iago.
Before considering the importance of Iago\'s words, it is important to
define what jealousy means. According to The New Lexicon Webster\'s Encylopedic
Dictionary of the English Language, “jealousy is a state of fear, suspicion,
revenge or envy caused by a real or imagined threat or challenge to one\'s
possessive instincts. It may be provoked by rivalry, in sexual love, by
competition or by desires for the qualities or possessions of another.”
Roderigo is foolish and even at times unusually feeble-minded. This
explained partially by Roderigo\'s jealousy: he is infatuated with Desdemona and
has been for some time. He is willing to do anything to win her love. He is
jealous that Desdemona loves Othello and not him. In accordance with the
definition of jealousy, Roderigo desires the possessions of another. It is this
jealousy which moves him to do many evil things in the play. He pays Iago large
amounts of money to conjure up a scheme to acquire Desdemona. He gives in to
Iago at the beginning of the play. In effect he has become the villian\'s
disciple. By doing this, he himself has adopted the green-eyed monster image.
In act two, he is prompted by Iago to cause a commotion and begin a fight with
Cassio. Later in act four, scene two, Roderigo is convinced by Iago to kill
Cassio. In act five, scene one, Roderigo attempts to kill Cassio but only
manages to wound him. At the same time Cassio wounds Roderigo. Iago (who was
watching this fight) leaves only to re-enter later and kill Roderigo.
Roderigo\'s jealousy brought upon his downfall.
Most people do not think of jealousy as Iago\'s downfall, but in essence,
jealousy has many negative effects on Iago. By using Iago, Shakespeare has
shown just how powerful jealousy really is. Iago is cunning, crafty,
intellectual and intelligent. Despite seeming to be impermeable to negative
emotions such as jealousy, the exact opposite seems to happen. Iago can not
accept the fact that Othello overlooks him and appoints Cassio as his lieutenant.
Iago finds it appalling and is jealous that he wasn\'t promoted. Iago fits the
definition of jealousy because he is in a state of revenge which is provoked by
competition. This jealousy made Iago the villian or as was put in the play, “
the green-eyed monster.” The play focuses on his plot to ruin Othello because
he wasn\'t chosen.
Near the end of the first act, Iago explains to Roderigo that Othello
and Desdemona will be undone by his wit. As he states it, separating Othello
and Desdemona becomes a challenge to him and the forces of evil:

If sanctimony and a frail vow betwix an erring barbarian
and a supersublte Venetian be not too hard for my wits
and all the tribe of hell, thou shalt enjoy her.

Iago uses his wit, his scheming or cunning , to make Cassio lose his
credibility in Othello\'s eyes, initially by coercing Cassio to lose control at
the party and begin to fight. Then by making it appear that Desdemona is having
a secret romance with Cassio. But in the end, minor errors (but very important
errors) contributed to his downfall. The first being that Roderigo was unable
to kill Cassio and the second being his wife, Emilia, who in the end can no
longer keep quiet and lets Othello know that he has been deceived by Iago. From
this point on, there was a different view of Iago. He could no longer uphold
his “honest Iago” image. He was now evil Iago. Perhaps Iago\'s plan would have
been successful if he wasn\'t so persistent in destroying Othello and Desdemona.
He was already successful with destroying Cassio\'s reputation and his own
reputation was improving drastically. Jealousy and his thirst for power made
him continue and ultimately lead to his failure.
Out of all the characters in this play, it is most obvious that jealousy
was what ruined Othello. Jealousy has the most profound effect on Othello. Of
course, it is Iago who plants vivid pictures of Desdemona and Cassio sleeping
together in Othello\'s head. However, Othello is a simple man. He has never had
to deal with this type of situation. As a result, he had very extreme reactions
because of his jealousy.