Othello, Jealousy

Two different kinds, romantic and professional. Is misunderstanding the root of jealousy? In Othello’s case, but perhaps not Iago and Bianca’s. Are we presuming that Bianca is jealous? She does not directly state this.
English Renaissance culture; historians report, for instance, that the opprobrious terms cuckold, master account for most of the defamation suits brought in six- teenth century church courts Anxiety about sexual betrayal pervades the drama of the English Renaissance. Traditionally the material of comedy, cuckoldry or the fear of cuckoldry becomes a tragic theme as well in the late six- teenth and early seventeenth centuries
Geraldi Cinthio’s Gli Hecatomithi the source for Othello, elaborately details the Moor’s agonies of repen- tance after the murder, but describes the motive for the crime in brief and general terms In the dramatic adaptations, the jealous husband or lover consistently receives far more attention than he does in the nondramatic sources, and alternative foci of narrative interest-the woman, the rival-become correspondingly less important
Renaissance treatises on the passions describe jealousy as a com- bination of the two primary “appetites,” concupiscence and irascibility “the Gaule that corrupteth all the Hony of our life: it is com- monly mingled with the sweetest and pleasantest actions, which maketh so sharpe and sower as nothing more … i 5 Pierre Charron, Of Wisdom
Their contemporaries represent jealousy as a passion incident to both sexes. Montaigne argues that women are naturally so prone to jealousy that it is not even worth counselling them against it (785); Burton that “men and women are both bad, and too much subject to this pernicious infirmity” (3.266).6 In Sidney’s Arcadia the queen, Gynecia, is as formidable in her jealousy as she is in her adulterous passion for her daughter’s lover The English dramatists differ from their contemporaries, too, in the extraordinary emphasis they place on the jealous husband’s de- sire for a specifically visual corroboration of his suspicions. Shake- speare and his contemporaries almost invariably depict male jeal- ousy in terms of a particular scenario: a man looks on while his beloved betrays him sexually with another man.7 “Give me the oc- ular proof.” Othello insists, “Make me to see’t!”-and Jago can in- tensify his suspicions merely by clarifying the implications of that demand: “Would you, the supervisor, grossly gape on, / Behold her topped?”
Writers on both sides of this argument describe the experience of audiences in remarkably vivid terms. Audiences are “impressed,” “wrought upon,” “inflamed,” “ravished” by the performance. “So bewitching a thing is lively and well spirited action,” writes Hey- wood in An Apologie for Actors, “that it hath power to new mold the hearts of the spectators and fashion them to the shape of any noble and notable attempt.” Sidney calls the “sweet violence” of stage rep- resentation. “Poetes that write playes, and they that present them upon the stage, make our affections overflow,” writes the antithe- atricalist Stephen Gosson, “whereby they draw the bridle from that parte of the minde, that should ever be curbed.”‘0
IAGOOne Michael Cassio, a Florentine,A fellow almost damned in a fair wife,That never set a squadron in the field,Nor the division of a battle knowsMore than a spinster—unless the bookish theoric,Wherein the togèd consuls can proposeAs masterly as he: mere prattle, without practiceIs all his soldiership. But he, sir, had the election;And I, of whom his eyes had seen the proofAt Rhodes, at Cyprus and on other groundsChristian and heathen, must be beleed and calmedBy debitor and creditor. This counter-caster,He, in good time, must his lieutenant be Iago’s professional jealousy of Cassio is rooted in his sense that C has been unjustly promoted, is unfit to lead due to his lack of experience. The trochaic substitution in ‘more than a spinster’ as well as the falling trochaic rhythm of ‘bookish theoric’ contributes to the sardonic tone in which an actor might speak these words. Do the audience sympathise with Iago at this point? Professional jealousy. ‘ Florentine’: Machiavelli, Medici, sophisticated, urbane, politic.
IAGOI hate the Moor,And it is thought abroad, that ‘twixt my sheets’Has done my office. I know not if ‘t be true,But I, for mere suspicion in that kind,Will do as if for surety. ‘I hate the Moor’: two foot line, endstopped, monosyllabic, draws the audience’s attention to the clause in itself. Motiveless? Sexual jealousy: No evidence at all that O and E are in a ‘relationship’ of any kind. ‘Mere suspicion’: long vowel sound of ‘mere’; perhaps not being ‘honest Iago’ with himself: searching for a motive. Anger is implicit. Othello’s is more compliant with definition of ‘irascible’.
The Moor is of a free and open nature,That thinks men honest that but seem to be so,And will as tenderly be led by th’ noseAs asses are.I have ‘t. It is engendered. Hell and nightMust bring this monstrous birth to the world’s light. Othello’s vulnerability to jealousy: his virtue, being of a ‘free and open nature’. Iago begins the corrosion of the adjective ‘honest’ by using the adverb ‘seem[s]’; he plays on the other characters’ inability to see past ‘seem[ing]’, equivocates — emphasised further by position of metrical stress. Bestial imagery used to highlight Othello’s impressionable nature.
IAGOO, beware, my lord, of jealousy!It is the green-eyed monster which doth mockThe meat it feeds on; Animal imagery: stresses irrationality of jealousy: ‘the green-eyed monster’ — not satisfied by consuming the ‘meat’ — Iago, Othello. Apophasis: Iago is using sophistry to raise the issue of jealousy in Othello’s mind; also, dramatic irony. Does Iago see himself as in danger from ‘jealousy’? Lack of self-knowledge? (Othello has ‘done [his] office’).
OTHELLOWhy, why is this?Think’st thou I’d make a life of jealousy,To follow still the changes of the moonWith fresh suspicions? No. To be once in doubtIs once to be resolved. Exchange me for a goat,When I shall turn the business of my soulTo such exsufflicate and blown surmises,Matching thy inference. ‘Tis not to make me jealousTo say my wife is fair, feeds well, loves company,Is free of speech, sings, plays and dances well.Where virtue is, these are more virtuous.Nor from mine own weak merits will I drawThe smallest fear or doubt of her revolt,For she had eyes, and chose me. No, Iago;I’ll see before I doubt; when I doubt, prove;And on the proof, there is no more but this:Away at once with love or jealousy. Othello demands ‘ocular proof’ from Iago: this is his remedy for jealousy. Final lines seem to be a logically sound disjunctive syllogism; however, Iago’s false ‘proofs’ lead him into a false dichotomy. Lack of self-awareness on Othello’s part. Othello ‘refuse’ to fall to circumstantial evidence (D’s beauty and virtues, and his own weaknesses): ‘For she had eyes, and chose me.’ At this stage, still apparently confident (monosyllables, ending with spondee). ‘I’ll see before I doubt; when I doubt, prove;And on the proof, there is no more but this:Away at once with love or jealousy.’ Scheme of repetition: gradatio; Othello’s reasoning seems logical due to this; however, his understanding of ‘proof’ is fundamentally flawed.
IAGOTrifles light as airAre to the jealous confirmations strongAs proofs of holy writ. This may do something. Iago echoes Othello’s use of the noun ‘proof’ earlier; Middle English (also denoting an idle story told to deceive or amuse): from Old French trufle, by-form of trufe ‘deceit’, of unknown origin. The verb derives from Old French truffler ‘mock, deceive’: etymology of word, therefore, links to ‘mock the meat it feeds on’. Jealousy ‘feeds’ on ambiguity, lack of knowledge, misunderstandings: chiasmus of ‘trifles light…strong as proofs of holy writ’; jealousy distorts one’s perception of the truth; it prevents one from knowing and judging.
IAGOThe Moor already changes with my poison;Dangerous conceits are in their natures poisons,Which at the first are scarce found to distaste,But with a little act upon the bloodBurn like the mines of Sulphur. Enter Othello.
EMILIAPray heaven it be state-matters, as you think, and no conception nor no jealous toy concerning you.DESDEMONAAlas the day, I never gave him cause!EMILIABut jealous souls will not be answered so.They are not ever jealous for the cause,But jealous for they are jealous. It is a monsterBegot upon itself, born on itself.DESDEMONAHeaven keep that monster from Othello’s mind!
DESDEMONAWhere should I lose that handkerchief, Emilia?EMILIAI know not, madam.DESDEMONABelieve me, I had rather have lost my purseFull of crusadoes. And, but my noble MoorIs true of mind and made of no such basenessAs jealous creatures are, it were enoughTo put him to ill thinking.EMILIAIs he not jealous?DESDEMONAWho, he? I think the sun where he was bornDrew all such humors from him.
OTHELLOSpeak of me as I am. Nothing extenuate,Nor set down aught in malice. Then must you speakOf one that loved not wisely, but too well;Of one not easily jealous, but being wrought,Perplexed in the extreme; Othello’s suicide speech – his attempt to justify his jealousy and D’s death. Chiasmus: ‘speak of me as I am’. Anaphoric reposition of ‘of one’. Repetition of ‘speak’: desperation, frustration. ‘loved not wisely’ misguided judgement of D’s infidelity; ‘but not well’ guilt that he didn’t love D enough. ‘perplexed’ euphemism to hyperbolise his frustration with himself and how easily he was manipulated by Iago.