The Green-Eyed Monster


Oh, 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, oh, what damned minutes tells he o’er
Who dotes, yet doubts— suspects, yet soundly loves!

Oh, misery!

Those who know the story of Othello know that Othello promotes Cassio over Iago. Iago, greatly angered, then engineers the appearance of an affair between Desdemona, Othello’s wife, and Cassio. The appearance of an affair mounts as Othello sees them together, overhears Cassio talking of another, and ultimately finds the handkerchief he gave her, which Iago plants in Cassio’s chambers.


What happens in the end? (Spoiler Alert) Othello smothers Desdemona in their bed. When confronted about her death he tries to justify it because of her adultery. Only later her learns that his wife was innocent. He ultimately commits suicide.

It is no accident that Shakespeare describes jealousy as a green-eyed monster. We have long used colors for symbolism. Red is the color of passion. Purple the color of royalty. White the color of innocence. Green is the color of sickness.

Jealously infects the eyes. It affects how we see the world and those that we care about. Iago knew this, and it was his intent to infect Othello. It is the kind of monster that though one may intensely love another, it destroys any happiness through doubt and suspicion.
Now this is when I started thinking about Bruce Banner. You know, the genius and atomic physicist who got a heavy dose of gamma rays in Marvel Comics. If you have seen any of the movies, cartoons or comics you know what happens when Dr. Banner’s body starts pumping adrenaline: he grows enormous, green and tears his clothes off. You also know that there is a real debate whether the Hulk is a hero or a monster.

What any of us can say is that turning into the Hulk hasn’t done much for Dr. Banner’s social life. It has become a reason for extreme social isolation. Certainly, the Hulk has none of Dr. Banner’s intelligence, manners, or social skills. He is a menace, easily angered, and extremely destructive. He is also unstoppable.

The key difference between the green-eyed monster and the Hulk is that the Hulk is indestructible. No matter how many walls the Hulk busts through he comes out ok. Jealously is  something different, because when it turns us into green-eyed monsters we do an incredible amount of damage to ourselves.

Poor and content is rich, and rich enough,
But riches fineless is as poor as winter
To him that ever fears he shall be poor.
Good heaven, the souls of all my tribe defend
From jealousy!

Evan Taylor is a traveler, lawyer, and returned Peace Corps volunteer. He is a strong believer in that we need a science of morality as comprehensive as our currently understanding of the physical world. Otherwise, he an avid listener of EDM and wants to learn to dance Bachata.