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Monster Motif: Othello
Transcript of Monster Motif: Othello
Iago ironically warns Othello of the jealousy's perils. The monster imagery illustrates visually the destructive nature of jealousy because it is a beast that devours the victim while "mocking" or degrading the victim. The individual that experiences jealousy actually creates "the green-eyed monster" that in turn "feeds" on its creator; this horrible emotion destroys the person creating it.
"By heaven, thou echo'st me
As if there were some monster in thy thought
Too hideous to be shown." —Othello, 3.3.106-8
“Hell and night must bring this monstrous birth to the world's light. (I.iii.400-401)” Iago
Whip me, ye devils,
From the possession of this heavenly sight!
Blow me about in winds! roast me in sulphur!
Wash me in steep-down gulfs of liquid fire!
O Desdemon! Desdemon! dead! Othello 5:4:277-280
"O, beware, my lord, of jealousy!
It is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock
The meat it feeds on." —Iago, 3.3.165-7
"A horned man's a monster and a beast." —Othello, 4.1.62
In Shakespeare's tragedy "Othello", the monster and demon imagery illustrates that overwhelming jealousy results a loss of rationality and increasingly destructive behavior resulting in emotional anguish and destroyed relationships.
The "monstrous birth" that Iago is referring to is his evil plan to "abuse" [Othello's] ear with lies of Desdemona's infidelity. The evil nature of this plan is indicated in the imagery of "hell and night" which represents the parents of this "monstrous" child. The child, Iago's plan, is a conceived from Iago's own jealousy and results in the destruction of people and relationships around him, thus emphasizing the evil source and destructive end of jealous behavior.
The monster image that Othello describes is after Iago has provided him with the false truth of Desdemona's infidelity. In Elizabethan era, the image of a cuckolded man was a man with horns which indicates that a bestial and monstrous nature. It is a physical indicator that he is less than a man and "beast" like because of the unnatural condition of a wife being unfaithful to her husband. In addition, the jealousy infidelity causes has made Othello feel like a "monster" because of the emotion agony he is experiencing.
Othello has just discovered that he has murdered his wife while blinded by jealousy and based on "honest" Iago's lies. His actions based on his overwhelming jealousy have created his own hell as well as condeming his own soul to hell; he knows he has sinned by betraying and murdering his wife. He asks for his own torturous punishment in hell as justice for his hideous act of jealousy.
Othello is experiencing the first twinges of jealousy in these lines to Iago. He is being ruthlessly manipulated and projects the "monster" in his own thoughts onto Iago. Othello does not want to acknowledge the "hideous" nature of Iago's monstrous thoughts because they are too painful. Although he fears what Iago has to say, he is drawn to it.