A web of intricately interwoven lies paving the path for deep jealousy and ultimately destroying the lives of several characters is the focus of Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’. This tragic idea is the main theme of the play and made clear by the dramatist early in the action by the use of a plethora of techniques; namely, the key scene and characterisation.
The introduction of Iago himself aids in highlighting the themes of jealousy and envy.
His frustration and anger at losing the position of lieutenant to Michael Cassio becomes apparent when he is talking to Roderigo:
‘ Three great ones of the city
In personal suit to make me his lieutenant,
Off-capped to him; and, by the faith of man,
I know my price: I am worth no worse a place.’
Although Iago implies here that Othello passed his experience for Cassio’s, we wonder the likelihood of this as it may just be his overwhelming envy overriding logic. It is this irrationalism that leads to Iago hatching a plan to destroy Othello. On witnessing Michael Cassio and Desdemona’s interaction, he concludes that an underlying romance is brewing between them:
‘That Cassio loves her, I do well believe it;’
His jealousy and envy breeds his plans for revenge on Othello. Alongside believing that Othello snubbed him in office, he also bases his envy on the suspicion that Othello may have had an affair with his wife, Emilia:
‘And it is thought abroad that ‘twixt my sheets
He’s done my office.’
Iago, here, has no solid proof of such incidents yet uses loose rumours upon which to further feed his envy and intends to torture the Moor with claims of Desdemona and Cassio’s love affair.
Iago’s intellect allows him to sense the jealous love which Roderigo feels...