Evil Thoughts Created by Jealousy in Othello and Macbeth

Jealousy in Othello and Macbeth

A parasite is an organism that lives in or on another organism (its host) and benefits by acquiring nutrients at the host organism’s expense; some examples of parasites include barnacles and fleas, however, the parasite that will be dealt with shortly is a different kind of monster, for it possesses green-eyes.

Jealousy as a theme is mentioned frequently in William Shakespeare’s plays Othello and Macbeth. However, even more impressively, one can observe that all jealous characters seem to follow the same trend; this is that jealousy evokes an evil in man that, when acted upon, will ultimately lead to the man’s demise. This process is demonstrated through three defined stages: the birth of jealousy, an act of evil, and the character’s own destruction.

The first step toward the person’s demise is the jealousy itself (bringing forth evil thoughts). Othello is one who demonstrates this when he prepares to “furnish [himself] with some swift means of death” for Desdemona (III, iii, 474). This occurs when Iago completely deceives Othello of Desdemona’s marital faith, making him irrevocably jealous. Another character who shows jealousy accompanied by evil thought is Macbeth. When Macbeth is not given the title of Prince of Cumberland, he says, “let not light see my black and deep desires” to himself, revealing his evil thoughts (I, iv, 51). These thoughts are a result of Macbeth’s jealousy towards Malcolm (the Prince of Cumberland) The character Iago from Othello also demonstrates this point when he says, “Let us be conjunctive in our revenge / against [Othello]” to Roderigo (I, iii, 363-364). Iago’s evil intent originated from Othello awarding a promotion to one Michael Cassio; Iago, thinking he deserved the promotion, has become jealous. All of the examples listed clearly reveal a jealousy within these characters, resulting in evil thoughts.

The following stage in the life cycle of jealousy is when the evil thoughts are projected into reality as acts. Macbeth first does this when he kills Duncan as a result of his jealousy of Malcolm. After doing this, Macbeth frantically exclaims to Lady Macbeth that “[He] thought [he] heard a voice cry, ‘Sleep no more! / Macbeth does murder sleep’” (II, ii, 35-56). From this, it is seen that Macbeth has committed murder as a result of the seeding jealousy. Macbeth demonstrates truly evil acts once more, however, this time not as a direct result of jealousy, but rather an indirect result. This act is when he murders Macduff’s family in order to attack Macduff emotionally. While this may not seem to be motivated by jealousy, this act can be traced back to the original jealousy of Malcolm; this is because one of the reasons Macbeth commits the murders is because Macduff is suspicious of Duncan’s murder. The third example of evil acts committed because of jealousy is Othello’s murder of Desdemona. Once Othello has done the deed, he states, “’Twas I that killed [Desdemona]” to Emilia (V, ii, 128). This act is observably motivated by the jealousy installed by Iago’s lies.

Clearly, the examples mentioned all show the evil thoughts created by jealousy being translated into acts.