Othello: The Pathological Jealously of Iago


Iago\'s crimes define pathological jealousy and a sheer desire for
revenge. His acts are pre-meditated and have reasons. In various soliloquies, he
reveals grudges that, while mostly false or overblown, present themselves as
clear to Iago. Iago masters duplicity, even remarking himself "I am not what I
am." (line 67) Many of his dark motives are probably concealed from the audience.
In his few soliloquies, he presents definitive motives for his vengeful desires.
His passions are so dark that they can only be understood by himself.
The first scene depicts Iago conversing with Roderigo. Iago\'s goals,
grudges, and furthermore his motives are revealed. His plan is calculated and
pre-meditated with Roderigo being a mere source of cash. Iago explains his
disbelief on not being selected for lieutenant. He boasts of his military
victories "at Rhodes, at Cyprus, and on other grounds/ Christened and heathen,
must be beleed and calmed/ By debitor and creditor." (lines 30-32) Iago was
denied a position of high valor and takes umbrage to the person responsible.
That person is Othello. Othello chooses Michael Cassio, whom Iago denounces as
"a Florentine." (line 21) Iago has been beaten by a Florentine with (as Iago
thinks) less military ability than him. This deep wound commands Iago to revenge.

Iago cannot bear Othello\'s being a superior figure. Iago comments on
Othello\'s going to war as "Another of his fathom they have none/ To lead their
business." (lines 153-154) Iago insults Othello\'s skin color profusely behind
his back. As the first part of his plan, Iago seeks to arouse Brabantio to the
fact that the Moor has "robbed" (line 88) him of his daughter. Iago refers to
Othello as an "old black ram/ tupping your white ewe." This tasteless reference
pictures Othello\'s ugly black skin with Desdemona\'s beautiful white skin. Iago
convinces Brabantio that he must rescue his daughter from "the devil," another
racial reference to Othello\'s black skin. Iago never identifies Othello except
with remarks such as "the Barbary horse" mounting Desdemona. Brabantio\'s cousins,
Iago rages "will be jennets," (line 14) black Spanish horses. The racism and
hatred behind Iago is only worsened by Othello\'s high position and high
popularity with the people; far higher than Iago will ever reach. Thus, Iago
hatches a plot, not out of sheer malice or insanity, but out of a pathological
jealousy beyond comprehension.
Othello demonstrates his noble nature when confronted by Brabantio. He
coolly remarks "I must be found./ My parts, my title, and my perfect soul/ Shall
manifest me rightly." (lines 30-32) This remarkable presentation even causes
Iago to swear in appreciation, "By Janus." He is insanely jealous over Othello\'s
skill. The Duke does not even notice Brabantio just greets Othello as "valiant
Othello." (line 48) Iago\'s first plan is foiled by the composure and sheer power
of Othello. This only maddens Iago.
Later, Iago scorns the Moor and Cassio. While his many accusations are
unbelievable, they present motive and a pathological desire to ruin these
people\'s lives for specific reasons. Iago believes that Othello won Desdemona,
not by stories of perils, but by "bragging and telling her fanatical lies."
(line 216) Iago also denounces Cassio as "a slipper and subtle knave, a finder
out of occasions, that has an eye can stamp and counterfeit advantages, though
true advantage never present itself; a devilish knave." (lines 229-231) Iago is
able to denounce anyone through fictitious reasoning. In this way, he can make
up reasons to seek revenge on innocent people. He also scoffs at Cassio\'s
courteous remarks to women. He says that Desdemona is a "most exquisite lady . .
. most fresh and delicate . . . indeed perfection." (lines 16-22) Iago mocks him
"Well, happiness to their sheets!" (line 23) While these are blatantly libelous
remarks, Iago sees these damning traits and gives bold reasons for plotting
against Othello and Cassio.
In a soliloquy, Iago gives a clear presentation of his grievances.
These vile lies are believable only to Iago. He states, "Now, I do love her
too,/Not out of absolute lust-through peradventure/ I stand accountant for as
great a sin-/ But partly led to diet my revenge . . . The lusty Moor hath leaped
into my seat . . . And nothing shall content my soul/ Till I am evened with him
wife for wife . . . I fear Cassio with my nightcap too." (lines 265-280) Though
these accusations are false and have no basis, Iago displays his grudges and
motives to himself. Though Iago may be stretching the bounds of sanity, he still
finds reason.
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