Othello Syndrome Essay

Submitted By Yi-Wu
Words: 1028
Pages: 5

Exploring the psychology of Othello In Shakespeare’s tragedy “Othello”, the protagonist, Othello, is a brave and competent Moorish general who marries a young Venetian beauty, Desdemona. However, his ensign, Iago, who convinces him that Desdemona has an affair with his lieutenant, manipulates Othello. Eventually, Othello strangles his beloved wife, and suicides after discovering Iago’s plot. Through discussing the definition of morbid jealousy, the social-environmental factors surrounding Othello and his personality, Othello is diagnosed as having “Morbid Jealousy”. Nowadays, it is otherwise known as Othello syndrome. To start with, I will clarify the definition of morbid jealousy. In medical terms, it is defined as “the delusion of infidelity of a spouse or partner. The Othello syndrome affects males and, less often, females. It is characterized by recurrent accusations of infidelity, searches for evidence, repeated interrogation of the partner, tests of the partner’s fidelity, and sometimes stalking. The syndrome may appear by itself or in the course of paranoid schizophrenia, alcoholism, or cocaine addiction” (Todd 1995). Examining this definition, we can conclude that morbid jealousy is highly dangerous, and it does result in disruption of Othello and Desdemona’s marriage, the murder and Othello’s suicides.
Secondly, I will continue to establish the roots of Othello’s morbid jealousy. Briefly, there are for two main causes of his delusion: the social-environmental factors surrounding Othello and his personality. The racial discrimination toward Othello foreshadows his psychotic jealousy. In Act 1 Scene 3, Othello tells that he has had a hard life, and he has done a lot of work through the ranks to become the general of an army despite he is a black. He does not even know much about the world apart from fighting in the battlefield. Briefly, decisive and absolute, Othello is a man of action. It works amazingly if he is a soldier, but it doesn’t work so well in the domestic life. Othello concludes without any hesitation that his wife has an affair with his lieutenant only based on a missing handkerchief. Moreover, he feels insecure about the relationship between him and Desdemona due to their great difference in social status. Desdemona is a gorgeous young girl, and her father is a Venetian senator, which means they are in high class of Venetian society. However, in contrast, Othello is old and his class origin determines him to be discriminated by the Venetian high class. For example, Iago says,“Even now, now, very now, an old black ram is tupping your white ewe”(1.1.88). Also, Brabantio cries, “She, in spite of nature, For years, of country, credit, every thing, To fall in love with what she fear'd to look on” (1.3.97). The social prejudice makes Othello feel insecure and inferior; especially he is a person who displays many of the characteristics of narcissistic person. To define, “narcissistic personality disorder is a personality disorder in which a person is excessively preoccupied with personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity, mentally unable to see the destructive damage they are causing to themselves and to others in the process” (Groopman 2006). The reason why I regard him as a narcissist is the last speech he justifies his violent act. Othello claims, “ Soft you; a word or two before you go. I have done the state some service, and they know't. No more of that. I pray you, in your letters. When you shall these unlucky deeds relate, Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate, Nor set down aught in malice: then must you speak. Of one that loved not wisely but too well; Of one not easily jealous, but being wrought Perplex'd in the extreme; of one whose hand, Like the base Indian, threw a pearl away Richer than all his tribe; of one whose subdued eyes, Albeit unused to the melting mood, Drop tears as fast as the Arabian trees Their medicinal gum. Set you down this; And say besides, that in Aleppo once,…