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Jealousy in Othello, Wuthering Heights, and A View From the Bridge Essay


Compare and contrast the different ways in which the writers present the destructive nature of jealousy in Othello, Wuthering Heights, and A View from the Bridge,

The dark side of love is presented in the three texts as the way that love can turn from appearing happy to destructive. Pride, jealousy and obsession are presented as components of flawed love and the inevitable consequences in such relationships after the intervention of a catalyst. These components combined with the flawed personalities of the characters lead to the need for revenge resulting in destruction and tragic death.

One similarity between the texts is that the relationships at the beginning seem to be happy. In the 17th century a man sought approval from the father, however in Othello, Desdemona and Othello had confirmed their relationship through marriage before asking Brabantio. Moreover, Desdemona says I am hitherto your daughter. But heres my husband, the use of the word but, showing that her marriage is more important than her than following her fathers orders, which at the time is a-typical since women were seen to be inferior to their fathers and would never defy them. Perhaps her defiance towards her father shows that she is prepared to disobey orders from men which could become problematic in a time where women were expected to obey. Nevertheless, it could be argued that the fact that she was prepared to go against convention infers that their relationship was based on true love, as she loved Othello enough to defy her father and was prepared to have an inter-racial relationship which were unusual in the 17th century, in fact racism is evident when; Iago calls Othello thick-lips.

Similarly the relationship between Catherine and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights seems happy and loving. True love is suggested by the spiritual nature in which the relationship is presented. Catherines words whatever our souls are made of his and mine are the same, signify the close bond between Catherine and Heathcliff inferring that they were made to be together, and that their relationship is through destiny rather than superficial love. Natural imagery is used to emphasise the strength of their love which resembles the eternal rock beneath. Moreover the word eternal proposes that their relationship is certain to last forever.

Contrasting to both Othello, and Wuthering Heights, A View from the Bridge, by Arthur Miller describes a family relationship which appears loving. Eddie and Catherine seem to share a strong father-daughter like bond. At the beginning of the play she greets him with Hi Eddie, the informality of her speech towards him shows they have a friendly relationship. Furthermore her greeting suggests she is particularly pleased to see him, the use of an exclamation mark emphasises that she is joyful and excited at his arrival. Moreover, she looks at him and rushes and hugs him, enabling the audience to see their happy relationship and close bond through gestures. Catherines actions seem impulsive and immature and she is portrayed in a childish manner. This establishes that their relationship is clearly not a relationship between two lovers.

Although the relationships presented by the writers are initially happy, flaws are evident in both the characters and within their relationships. Although Othello is a well-respected army general whose heroic strength was shown in the battles, sieges, fortunes, that he had passed, he is also portrayed as weak and vulnerable. He calls Iago honest Iago, here dramatic irony is used to present that Othellos naivety will cause his downfall. Othello is shown to be insecure when he considers Haply, for I am black, And have not those soft parts of conversation, revealing his insecurities about his race, in fact it could be argued that his insecurities caused him to believe that Desdemona had been unfaithful. Perhaps due to his race he felt unworthy of her, and was therefore easily persuaded about her having an affair.

Similarly Heathcliff is shown to be an insecure character, his insecurities stem from the abuse he received as a child from his brother Hindley who called him "imp of Satan" and hoped a pony would kick his brains out, which eventually caused him to feel paranoid about his lack of status and to become insecure. This abuse caused him to believe he was weak, unworthy and evil, which eventually led him to act in ways which mirrored this, leading to his spiteful revenge on those he believed to have wronged him.

The motives for Othello and Desdemonas relationship could be said to be flawed. Othello reveals she loved me for the dangers I had passed and I loved her that she did pity them, disclosing that Desdemona loved Othellos strength and bravery and worshipped him as a hero, inferring that her views of love were romantic and idealistic. Othello loved the attention Desdemona gave him; as he boasted of his wild stories of war. His strong desire to be admired by others could eventually lead him towards a destructive jealousy, as being deemed a cuckold, would damage his reputation as a strong man. Furthermore Othello, boasts about how he won Desdemona, revealing that she is a trophy or prize and he is proud to show her off to others, it could be said that Othello actually wants others to be jealous of his achievements. Ironically Iagos jealousy of Othellos status causes him to seek revenge and destroy his relationship.

Like Othello, Heathcliff is presented as a character with a degree of underbred pride, this pride is damaged when Catherine rejects him, which causes him to become jealous of Catherine and Lintons marriage. Also Heathcliffs marriage to Isabella was motivated by revenge; his disgust towards her is shown when he refers to her as an abject thing. Catherine says, you have killed me and thriven on it, confirming that Heathcliffs revenge destroyed Catherine, showing the devastating impact of failed love since she died of a broken heart, resulting from Heathcliffs need for revenge. The use of the word thriven, suggests that Heathcliff flourished from Catherines weakness.

Shakespeare foreshadows the destruction that will occur in Othellos relationship using a storm which emulates the jealous storm that will brew inside Othellos head. Critics have proposed that the storm symbolises the battle between Iago and Othello to claim Desdemona. I believe, however that Shakespeare used the storm as a method to foreshadow that the relationship between Othello and Desdemona will be disturbed by an external source. Furthermore I disagree that Iago wanted to claim Desdemona, since I believe that he was motivated through his jealousy of Othellos high status and acted to spite Othello and to destroy his happiness.

Similarly Emily Bronte describes dark night coming down prematurely, and sky and hills mingled in one bitter whirl of wind and suffocating snow, here pathetic fallacy is used to signify the gloom soon to occur. The alliteration of the s creates sibilance exhibiting danger, in fact the use of the name Wuthering, symbolises the storms that will take place there since wuthering describes strong winds making a loud roaring sound.

The three texts are joined by the fact that they all show the dangers of extreme love. Othello speaks of loving too much, equally Alfieri tells Eddie that there is too much love for the niece. The use of too much, reveals that extreme love is likely to end badly; this is seen to be true in both plays as the intense nature of love leads both relationships to a tragic death. In Wuthering Heights, the fact that Catherine and Heathcliffs souls are the same, portrays their spiritual connection, revealing that the love they share is not ordinary. The fact that their souls are the same suggests that they depend on each other to feel complete, it could be said that they are too dependent on one another which leads their relationship to fail.

In A View from the Bridge, the audience become aware of Eddies controlling nature, when he says that aint what I wanted, to express his frustration at the fact that Catherine intends to flee the nest, inferring that he has his own ideas for Catherine and wants her to live her life following his guidelines. He seems quick to become angry and obstructive when people act against his desires, he tells Catherine you-dont-know-nothing, showing that he believes he knows everything, and the breaks in the sentence represent that he would pause after each word to say them in a harsh and patronising way.

Furthermore Eddie is highlighted as a jealous character who feels threatened by other men giving Catherine attention, he says I dont like the looks theyre giving, making it apparent that his feelings are more than paternal. Catherines childish actions towards Eddie emphasise that these sexual feelings are not reciprocated. The conflicting desires between Catherine and Eddie are destined to end in disaster as it seems inevitable that Catherine will want to find a man to have a sexual relationship with and Eddie will never feel comfortable with this or offer her the support of a father.

Eventually these flawed relationships are put to the test by the intrusion of a catalyst. In Othello, Iago is the catalyst, motivated by jealousy. His jealousy is presented early in the play when Iago is resentful that Cassio has been promoted and believes that he is worth no worse a place. Iago intends to put the Moor at least into a jealousy so strong that judgement cannot cure, showing jealousy is strong enough to destroy Othellos relationship, moreover this quote shows how jealousy can be so consuming that it causes people to lose the ability to distinguish reality from lies through judgement.

The catalyst in Wuthering Heights, is Catherines marriage to Linton. Catherines love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods. Time will change it, unlike her love for Heathcliff which is strong like eternal rocks beneath, her love for Linton will weaken and die as the seasons change. It is inferred that her marriage to Linton was due to her desire for status, since she says it would degrade me now to marry Heathcliff, revealing that she sought a wealthy husband to protect her reputation. The word degrade, suggests her reputation was more important to her than following her heart and she could not marry someone of a lower status than herself. Heathcliff overheard this making him angry and jealous of Linton which created his need for revenge. It could be argued that her rejection of Heathcliff who she said is more myself than I am, is also a rejection of herself, leading to her pain, suffering, and ultimately her death.

Bronte uses the character of Nelly to elucidate the devastating effect of Catherines marriage to Linton. She states that as soon as you become Mrs Linton, he loses a friend a love and all! highlighting that Heathcliff will be deeply affected by Catherines marriage. His devastation at this loss is what eventually leads him to turn to violence in order to seek revenge.

In A View from the Bridge, Roldolfos arrival acts as a catalyst. Miller establishes that Roldolfos arrival leads Eddie to become uncomfortable using stage directions. Eddie is described to be sizing up Roldolfo, and there is a concealed suspicion, demonstrating to the audience that Eddie is already cautious and worried about Roldolfos influence on Catherine. Furthermore Eddie is quick to silence Roldolfo when his singing impresses Catherine. Eddie says hey, kid hey, wait a minute-, the dashes creating breaks in the sentence revealing his agitation, which creates tension suggesting the potential for conflict. Eddie clearly feels threatened by the attention Catherine shows Roldolfo and her immediate fascination with him is shown when she says leave him finish, its beautiful! creating jealousy which causes Eddie to seek revenge.

The interference of the catalyst causes these flawed relationships to become doomed. Othello reveals that he and Desdemona are no longer happily wedded when he says, o curse of marriage, the use of the word curse, suggesting that marriage is an evil misfortune which destroys peoples happiness. Othello becomes desperate to find a living reason shes disloyal, confirming that Iagos malicious plan has worked and Othello has begun to doubt Desdemonas loyalty. This eventually leads to tragedy as a result of Othellos proud and insecure nature.

Similarly in Wuthering Heights, the devastating effect of the catalyst is shown through Heathcliffs jealousy and aggression. Heathcliff considers his life without Catherine, he says existence after losing her would be hell, which could be said to foreshadow Catherines death and suggest that Heathcliff will live on in torment. The use of the word hell, demonstrates the intensity of the horror he will experience after losing Catherine.

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