Being and unforeseen change from the fondest
Being one of the most prominent Shakespeare’s researchers of the early nineteenth century, William Hazlitt remains up-to-date due to the psychological bias of his interpretation. Stating the ever modern concept of the ambivalence of human nature, he analyzes the character of Othello, trying to suggest the natural impulses which could make him commit his wife’s murder. Of chief interest for Hazlitt is “the alternate ascendancy of different passions, by the entire and unforeseen change from the fondest love and most unbounded confidence to the tortures of jealousy and the madness of hatred”.
It is the gradual transition of mood that unites Shakespeare with the modern notion of characters’ psychology disclosure. Hazlitt states that on the one hand the Moor has a noble, frank and generous nature. This is something inborn, inherent to his personality. It is what we call the good in a human being, a bright side of his personality. But the paradox is, the good in him is tranquil and static, somewhat passive, while the evil impulse appears to be active and dynamic. One cannot say that while the nobility of the nature is something inborn, the deathly passion of jealousy can be treated as delusion or evil suggestion.
“The convulsive movements of uncontrollable agony”, as Hazlitt puts it, are not only imposed upon him by some external factors, such as the cunning intrigues of Iago. This passion of blood has always been part of his nature, its darker face. Sleeping, and eventually awaken by the smell of betray his felt it led to the ever-growing impulse for revenge. Hazlitt notes that the more this desire is sustained and delayed, the stronger and the more destructive and uncontrollable it gets. Overwhelmed by his imagination, encouraged by Iago’s malicious suggestions, he loses command of himself.
In a sense he kills Desdemona to sooth his pain, to stop his agony. It is his extreme love and affection for his wife that changes the positive charge for the negative one. The strength remains the same but it works in the opposite direction. Thus, “the nature of the Moor is noble, confiding, tender, and generous; but his blood is of the most inflammable kind”, and this duality of human nature causes the conflict, which leads to the most tragic consequences. Othello’s internal destructive passion is urged by external influences as well as by the strong power of his imagination.