The Theme of Revenge in Othello

Revenge is a constant theme throughout the play Othello. It is portrayed through the character Iago. Iago is determined to destroy Othello and his loved ones. This retribution is a result of Othello promoting Cassio to the position of lieutenant. The theme of revenge is the motivation of Iagos hatred toward Othello. In the beginning of the play, Iago feels betrayed by his good friend, Othello. Through many years of loyalty and service Iago is “[i]n personal suit to make [himself] [Othellos] lieutenant”(39).

When Othello has to choose his lieutenant, he appoints Cassio. Iago feels hurt and betrayed, and realizes “there [is] no remedy”(40) except for revenge. He “. . . hate[s] the Moor . . . “(63) and comes to the conclusion that ” . . . nothing can or shall content [his] soul [t]ill [he is] evened with [Othello] . . . “(76). In an attempt for revenge, Iago publically humiliates Brabantio at Othellos expense. In the middle of the night, Iago calls outside Brabantios house to inform him that his daughter, Desdemona has run away and eloped with Othello.

Coming from two different backgrounds, Desdemonas father takes offense to their interracial marriage. This demeans Othello and causes him to prove to Brabantio that he did not use any witchcraft or black magic to win Desdemonas heart. When Desdemona professes her true love for Othello, her father disowns her. Iagos first attempt to destroy Othello is successful, yet he still craves revenge. He devises a plan to destroy Othello. He wants to make Othello believe that Cassio is having an affair with his wife Desdemona.

This will cause Othello to regret appointing Cassio as his lieutenant and simultaneously destroy Othellos life. He knows that he “must bring this monstrous birth to the worlds light”(64) if he wants to avenge Othellos betrayal. Iago is successful in convincing Othello that his wife is unfaithful. Outraged, Othello murders Desdemona. Immediately after, Emilia, Iagos wife and Desdemonas “mistress”(156), explains to Othello that her husband has been lying to him and Desdemona had been faithful.

Iago then murders Emilia. Iago succeeds in destroying Othellos life as well as his own. In summation, Iago consumes his life with hatred and vengeance. Revenge is one of the main themes in this play. It drives Iago to do many irrational things and destroys Iagos friendship with Othello, the love Desdemona and Othello shared, and the trust between Cassio and Othello. The need for revenge is part of human nature, but if it is blown out of proportion, it can have devastating effects.

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