Why do we react impulsively to jealousy in trying situations? Think about a time in your life where you have impulsively reacted to jealousy. Perhaps you might have been loud, rude, aggressive, irrational, badly behaved...or even cruel. Imagine a society where people behaved in this way and there weren’t any consequences. The texts that I am going to talk to you about today illustrate how destructive impulsively reacting to jealousy can be.
In the play Othello, reacting to jealousy was a central theme and dictated how the characters lived their lives. The jealousy that the characters experienced was so powerful that it destroyed their relationships and everyday lives because they could not function. It had devastating consequences for these characters.
Likewise in The Piano the characters suffered signiﬁcantly because they were not able to control or manage the jealousy they felt. Interestingly in both texts their was little emphasis on the consequences of impulsively reacting to jealousy. And this is a fundamental question that could be posed......and that is, what would a society look like if there were no consequences for reacting impulsively to jealousy?
As you can see from the brainstorm up on the powerpoint, multiple characters have their lives impacted by jealousy. My ﬂowchart demonstrates the different but also very similar paths both Othello and Stewart took. Both sides of the chart highlight how and over reaction to jealousy quickly becomes much larger than the initial event and nearly always leads to a conclusion of dire consequences. The jealousy that the characters are experiencing in the text is an emotion and the word jealousy typically refers to the negative thoughts and feelings or insecurity, fear, anxiety over an anticipated loss of something of great value, particularly in reference to an existing connection. The human emotion, jealousy is one of the most powerful and painful; And it is deadly.
So lets go back to Othello. This jealousy is demonstrated from the very ﬁrst scene in the play and it is illustrated by a number of characters. First and foremost is Iago. Iago is angry, jealous and suspicious that Othello has slept with his wife, Emilia. His jealousy is so strong that he won’t feel satisﬁed until he gets revenge on Othello. He says “Till I am even’d with him, wife for wife / Or failing so, yet that I put the Moor/At least into a jealousy so strong / That judgement can not cure.” Interestingly Iago begins to plant seeds of jealousy in Othello’s mind about his wife Desdemona, saying that she might be sleeping with someone else. Yet at this time Iago acknowledges that he at times is unreasonably jealous and suspicious in his own life. This is reﬂected in his suspicion that his wife Emilia is sleeping with Othello and Cassio. He talks about his own jealousy; he says, “I confess, it is my nature’s plague/ To spy abuses, and oft my jealousy/ Shapes faults that are not.”
Iago takes his plan to make Othello jealous one step further by warning him against becoming jealous. He say’s “O, beware, my lord, of jealousy: It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock / The meat it feeds on: that cuckold lives in bliss / Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger; But, O, what damned minutes tells he o’er / Who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves!” This quote perfectly sums up the destructive consequences of reacting to jealousy. He says it is like a monster who teases a person’s heart and eats away at it. While this monster exists, a person will always be in pain and tormented. They will not ﬁnd any peace in life. Othello confronts Desdemona and aggressively questions her, and after he leaves Desdemona questions why he would act so irrationally towards her. Emilia responds by saying that Othello’s jealousy “is a monster/
Begot upon itself, born on itself.” This implies that Desdemona has