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The Portrayal of Jealousy: Othello vs. O

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1393 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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The smallest drop of jealousy can implant toxic thoughts that can manipulate their mental state and can change a person’s. It can greatly harm and influence an individual’s decision and also affect the environment that surrounds them. Jealousy is displayed within the play Othello, written by William Shakespeare and the modern day adaptation O, directed by Tim Blake Nelson, where characters are deceived and perform unethical tasks under the strong influence of jealousy. The unavoidable thought of jealousy can be used to drive a person’s motive, develop the flow of a plot and alter the way a person can portray.

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Othello’s Iago and O’s counterpart Hugo, are both almost identical and are driven purely by the feeling of jealousy to create the downfall of Othello/Odin. The outcome of the decisions that Iago and Hugo made, heavily changed the flow of the plot and are responsible for the events that occur within the play and film. Iago’s first decision was the beginning of his plan to overthrow Cassio in lieutenancy and was evident when he said,

“For, sir,

It is as sure as you are Roderigo,

Were I the Moor I would not be Iago.

In following him, I follow but myself.

Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,

But seeming so for my particular end.

For when my outward action doth demonstrate

The native act and figure of my heart

In compliment extern, ’tis not long after

But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve

For daws to peck at. I am not what I am.”(1.1.61-71). The quote above states what Iago will hide his true intentions and keep them within himself while being by Othello’s side, but at the same time act as someone that differs from everyone’s perspective and make decisions that can ruin the lives of everyone around him. The death of Othello, Emilia, Roderigo, and Desdemona were all caused by Iago’s actions and his plan to reach his ultimate goal.  O’s version of Iago, Hugo, followed the same characterization of Iago and had the same intentions but instead, he feels robbed when Odin shared his M.V.P award with Micheal instead of him. Hugo states his feelings when he states, “All my life I have always wanted to fly. I always wanted to live like a hawk. I know you’re not supposed to be jealous of anything, but… to take flight, to soar above everything and everyone, now that’s living. But a hawk is no good around normal birds. It can’t fit in. Even though all the other birds probably wanna be hawks; they hate him for what they can’t be. Proud. Powerful. Determined. Dark. Odin is a hawk. He soars above us. He can fly. One of these days, everyone’s gonna pay attention to me. Because I’m gonna fly too.” (Nelson, O, Hugo). This quote explains the jealousy Hugo has towards Odin and how he is the “hawk” that grabs all the attention around him. Hugo desired to obtain that same attention, but he achieves it by making unethical decisions. In the same manner, as Iago’s plan, Hugo tries to use deception against Othello and change his perspective on Micheal. The decisions done by Hugo and Iago made had the same repercussions and caused the death of Othello, Emily, Rodger, and Desi. All in all, the decisions Iago and Hugo under the influence of jealousy had helped create development within the plot and were responsible for most of the events that had occurred within the film and play.

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The worlds for Othello and Odin were changed completely when jealousy started to feed onto their mental state and morals. The personalities of both characters differed from when they were introduced as the plot advanced. The protagonist, Othello, and Odin were both deceived by Iago/Hugo who planned out certain events to convince their significant others were having an affair behind their backs. The protagonist both came to a hasty conclusion and ended up executing both of their lovers. After learning the truth, both characters had mentally broken down and disentangled the situation surrounding them. This was evident when Odin stated, “I loved that girl, I did, he twisted my head up, it was that white, prep school boy standing right there.” (Nelson, O, Hugo). This quote happened after the death of Desi and showed that Odin fell into Hugo’s hole of lies and was influenced into making a life-changing decision. If Odin had really loved Desi, he would have sought out for more proof and put more faith into her rather than Hugo. His gullibility led to the death of several friends. Odin’s mistakes were transferred over to Othello and could have prevented a tragic ending for him and his friends. In Othello, Iago pointed out when he detected the jealousy within Othello when he stated, “O, beware, my lord, of jealousy! It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock  The meat it feeds on;” (3.3.195-197). In this quote, Iago pretended to warn the damage jealousy could do to a man’s heart but could have ironically stopped the destruction he had caused if Othello took his advice more seriously and taken things into his own matter. Instead, Othello fed into Iago’s words and made inalterable decisions. The ending of both Othello and O were both appalling due to the heavy presence of jealousy which caused both characters to quickly jump to conclusions and make irrational decisions that were life-changing.

In addition to how jealousy was developed and used within the play and film through the plot,  jealousy was what motivated and pressured Roderigo and Roger into achieving his desired goal of dating Desi/Desdemona. In the opening act of Othello, Roderigo seemed hopeless and was on the edge of throwing his life away when had her heart stolen and eloped with Othello. Roderigo feelings are visible when he stated, “It is silliness to live when to live is torment; and then have we a prescription to die when death is our physician.”(1.3.350-352). Roderigo is expressing his jealousy and suffering when Desdemona is in love with another man and would like to end it by taking his own life. Jealousy is also what keeps him alive as he is desperate to find enteral love and to take the place of Othello. The plot surrounding Roderigo emphasizes his jealousy, and as the plot advances, it starts to take over his mental state and decision making. Like Roderigo, Roger undergoes through the same situations where he has a crush on Desi, but she is already dating Odin. Roger is not as dramatic compared to Roderigo but is proved to be jealous when Iago asked, “Do you want Desi or not?” (Nelson, O, Hugo) and Roger responded with “Yes!”(Nelson, O, Roger). Roger is then pressured by Hugo to perform multiple tasks under the influence of jealousy which secretly helped Hugo. Like Iago, Hugo used the plot to influence Roger into achieving his goal of gaining all the attention as he knew Roger would help him no matter what when he felt jealous. Iago and Hugo both used the plot to accentuate jealousy within Roger and Roderigo for their own personal use to achieve their goal and to leave both jealous beings in the dust.

Jealousy is evidently constant throughout the film and play despite the differences they both have. They both provided the same conflict and plot which are strictly influenced by the theme of jealousy.  The jealous driven decisions Iago and Hugo made a drastic incline within the plot as it got many characters killed and pressured Roger/Roderigo to perform amoral tasks, only done when jealous. It was also able to mimic the mental state of Othello/Odin causing him to make decisions that are out of his character. All these characters were controlled by the unavoidable thought of jealousy which was utilized to drive an individual’s thought process, build up the conflict within the plot and alert the manner in which an individual can be depicted.

Work Cited

  • Nelson, Tim Blake, director. O. Lionsgate, 2001.
  • Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy Of Othello: the Moor of Venice. Pocket Books, 2017.


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