Othello Shakespeare Othello Is One Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

There is a continuing debate within scholarly circle about the "motiveless malignity" of Iago. (Kolin 214) In other words, a close reading of the play raises the question as to whether evil is spurred by ulterior motives and feelings such as jealously or whether evil is a purely senseless act that is its own motive.

The poet Coleridge was of the view that Iago represents senseless evil in human nature and that his character is a symbol and incarnation of evil itself; hence the famous quote, "The motive-hunting of motiveless Malignity," This refers in particular to Act 1, Scene 3 of Othello in which Iago takes leave of Roderigo. In this soliloquy Iago states that, …. I hate the Moor:

And it is thought abroad, that 'twixt my sheets

He 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. (Lines 386 -390)

Even at this early stage of the play Iago is already preparing to take advantage of Othello's psychological and moral vulnerabilities. As he states in the same scene;

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 the nose

As asses are.

I have't. It is engender'd. Hell and night

Must bring this monstrous birth to the world's light

(Lines 399 -- 404)

These lines coincide with his pathological view of the innate corruptibility of human nature: "It is merely a lust of the blood and a permission of the will." ( lines 334- 335).

From another more psycho-sociological perspective, the evil that lurks in the heart or psyche of Iago can be referred to as the antithesis of the sense of order and balance that was deemed to be the ideal standard in Shakespeare's time. The problem of evil that surfaces in many of Shakespeare's plays is closely connected to the Elizabethan and Jacobean worldview, where evil is an imbalance in the natural and harmonious order of things in the universe. Iago is evil in this sense in that he creates a word where order and balance represented by love and honor are corrupted and perverted by lies and false insinuations.

We could perhaps relate this view the Jungian Psychological perspective as it applies to the analysis of literature. We can see many archetypes in the main characters of the play; for example, Othello as the good hero who falls foul of the evil demon in the form of Iago. From this point-of-view the symbols of evil in the play refer to archetypal or mythical reflections of the dissonance and lack of order in the universe. What occurs in the play is the disruption of the norms and healthy course of events in life in a balanced world.

3. Conclusion

One could continue in a similar vein with the above discussion and go through the play in order to illustrate the way that Iago uses Othello's own views and perceptions and contorts them into the virtual opposite of what they really are. The point that has been made in this paper is that the psychological and psycho-sociological approach to literature enables us to see the play from a different and more in-depth point-of-view.

In the course of the play we see how Iago expertly manipulates the inner feelings and psychological propensities of Othello. On the other hand, Othello begins to doubt his own feelings and finally believes that Desdemona has betrayed him, leading to the final horrific act of murder.


Ali K. Critical psychological analysis of Literature. 2008. Web. 27 June. 2011.


Kolin P. Othello: new critical essays. New York: Routledge, 2002.

Shakespearean Criticism: Othello. Web. 27 June. 2011.


Othello Navigator. Web. 27 June. 2011. http://www.shakespeare-


Shakespeare's Othello -- Iago's manipulation skills. Web. 27 June. 2011.


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