And as he sees the tortures the jealous worries of the Moor have already produced in him, he exultingly yet stealthily rejoices:
Not poppy, nor mandragora,
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world,
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
Which thou hadst yesterday.
Well might Othello exclaim that he is “Set on the rack.” Each new suspicion is a fresh pull of the lever, a tightening of the strain to breaking point, and soon his jealousy turns to the fierce and murderous anger Iago hoped it would:
to the Pontic sea,
Whose icy current and compulsive course
Ne’er feels retiring ebb, but keeps due on
To the Propontic and the Hellespont,
Even so my bloody thoughts, with violent pace,
Shall ne’er look back, ne’er ebb to humble love,
Till that a capable and wide revenge
Swallow them up.
Thus was he urged on, worried by his jealousy, until, in his bloody rage, he slew his faithful wife. Poor Desdemona, we weep her fate, yet at the same time we should deeply lament that Othello was so beguiled and seduced by his jealousy to so horrible a deed. And few men or women there are, unless their souls are purified by the wisdom of God, that are not liable to jealous influences. Our human nature is weak and full of subtle treacheries, that, like Iago, seduce us to our own undoing. He who yields for one moment to the worries of jealousy is already on the downward path that leads to misery, woe and deep undoing, Iago is made to declare the philosophy of this fact, when, in the early portion of the play he says to Roderigo:
’Tis in ourselves we are thus or thus. Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our wills are gardeners; so that if we will plant nettles or sow lettuce, set hyssop and weed up thyme, supply it with one gender of herbs or distract it with many, either to have it sterile with idleness or manured with industry, why, the power and corrigible authority of this lies in our wills.
Therein, surely, is great truth. We can plant or weed up, in the garden of our minds, whatever we will; we can “have it sterile with idleness,” or fertilize it with industry, and it must ever be remembered that the more fertile the soil the more evil weeds will grow apace if we water and tend them. Our jealous worries are the poisonous weeds of life’s garden and should be rooted out instanter, and kept out, until not a sign of them can again be found.
Solomon sang that “jealousy is as cruel as the grave; the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.”
What a graphic picture of worry—a fire of vehement flame, burning, scorching, destroying peace, happiness, content, joy and reducing them to ashes.