“I am not what I am”
Tragedy results when an evil lieutenant tricks a valiant army general into believing his wife is unfaithful in William Shakespeare’s Othello, and as he places husband against wife and soldier against soldier, a web of misconceptions blur the distinction between appearance and reality as the characters are not what they appear to be.
Othello, “the noble moor,” appears to be a heroic general whose calm nature, confidence, and honesty place him at the highest respect with the people of Vienna; however, in reality, Othello maintains little control over his jealousy when the “green-eyed monster” within escapes. On the battlefield, many praise Othello for his quick wit and ability to stay poised in the tensest of situations. His composure only lasts so long though, threatened by his increasing insecurities about his age, life as a soldier, race, and especially, status in comparison to Desdemona’s. When Iago presents the possibility of an affair between Cassio and Desdemona as more and more probable, Othello entertains this possibility and becomes even angrier. His jealousy unleashes a different, unknown “monster” and drives him to seek murder as the only option. However, once he recognizes his terrible error, as Desdemona has in fact remained loyal to him, he takes his own life, and his true love for her shines through. He recognizes that he is “one that loved not wisely but too well,” and “one not easily jealous but, being wrought.”
In the end, truth replaces all misconceptions. Othello proves to be rather vulnerable to his own “green-eyed monster,” insecurities, and lack of confidence though his true love for his “excellent wretch” Desdemona remains strong through his last breath.