Othello – Othello’s Honor
The play Othello exemplifies the themes of jealousy and chicanery.The play begins when Othello, a general in the Venetian army has angered Iago (a member of the army) by appointing Cassio (another army officer) to the lieutenant position.Iago feels that he is more deserving of the promotion than Cassio and decides that he will stop at nothing to get back at both Othello and Cassio.Iago decides that he will get revenge on Othello by using his wife, Desdemona. “O beware my lord, of jealousy! It is a greeneyed monster, which doth mock the meat it feeds on.That cuckold lives in bliss who, certain of his fate loves not his wronger;…yet fondly loves” (3.3.165).Foolishly Othello believes Iago and accuses Desdemona of being unchaste. Othello kills Desdemona because he is concerned about the affect that Desdemonass unfaithfulness will have on his reputation.
Othello ingenuous nature allows him to be lured in by Iagos lies.He never considers that Iago could in fact be lying to him which would be quite possible because he could have anger towards Othello. “Villain, be sure thou prove my love a whore!/ Be sure of it; give me ocular proof;/ or, by the worth of mine eternal soul,/ thou hadst been better been born a dog/ than answer my waked wrath!” (3.3.356) The only evidence that Desdemona could be having an affair is a missing handkerchief. Othello bases his reasoning on merely the missing handkerchief, which leads him to believe that Desdemona has been lying to him.IfOthello really believed that Desdemona was an honest person, he would have disregarded Iagos comments. However, Othello, more concerned with his own reputation, allows Iagos lies to control him until finally he decides that the only way to redeem his reputation is to kill Desdemona: “By heaven, I saw my handkerchief ins hand!/ O perjured woman! thou dost stone my heart,/ and makst me call what I intend to do/ a murder, which I thought a sacrifice./ I saw the handkerchief” (5.2.62).
After killing Desdemona though, Othello finds out that Iago has been lying to him the entire time.Emilia tells him, “Moor, she was chaste. She loved thee, cruel Moor, so come my soul to bliss as I speak true” (5.2.246).After hearing this becomes very sullen and talks about how he “threw a pearl away richer than all his tribe” (5.2.343). The emotional pain Othello demonstrates after discovering that he has been lied to shows how much he values his reputation or “honor”. “For naught did I in hate, but all in honor” (5.2.291).Othello decides that the only way to redeem his honor is to kill himself.”And say besides in Allepo once,/ where a malignant and turbaned Turk/ beat a Venetian and traduced the state,/ I took by th throat the circumcised dog/ and smote him thus.” (5.2.348) Othello demonstrates how much values his own reputation by declaring himself a traitor and then killing himself.
Othello values his reputation and does not respect the reputation of others.If Othello had respected Desdemona for her honesty he would have disregarded Iago and never have murdered Desdemona. He should have realized that Iago has every motive to lie to him.Instead Othello believes Iago because he is afraid of anything that could possibly tarnish his reputation.The consequences for Othellos actions are Desdemonas death, the emotional ruin caused by her death which leads to his own death.