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  • Jealousy in art

    Jealousy in art


    • Jealousy in art deals with the way writers and graphic artists have approached the topic of jealousy in their works.

      Jealousy is the powerful complex of emotions experienced at the loss, real or imagined, of something or someone you believe is yours, whereas envy concerns what you don’t have and would like to possess. Othello is filled with jealousy at the thought of losing Desdemona: Iago is consumed with envy of Othello’s prestige. Because jealous lovers tell multiple stories about those who arouse their jealousy, and because the emotion is so corrosive, jealousy is a common theme in literature and art, not to mention opera and cinema.

      Literary works use a variety of devices to explore its possibilities and reveal its wider implications. Most famously, perhaps, Schahriar's destructive jealousy in One Thousand and One Nights is what precipitates Scheherazade’s creative outpouring of stories. In Ariosto’s Orlando furioso (1516) jealousy leads to such a distortion of the world that the sufferer is driven to madness. Shakespeare's later play, the Winters tale (1613) is predominately about the jealousy felt by Leontes' and his supposed adulterous wife. E. T. A. Hoffmann’s Princess Brambilla (1821) is more concerned with the interplay between jealousy and the theater, between reality and masks. In Charlotte Brontë’s Villette (1853) jealousy becomes a game of reflections and speculations, a potent denial of sexual stereotypes, and, like many novels written by women, an angry rejection of the violation of the individual caused by the gaze of the jealous lover. Anthony Trollope uses both He Knew He Was Right (1869) and Kept in the Dark (1882) to analyze not only double standards used to judge how men and women behave but also the relationship between mind and body. Tolstoy’s The Kreutzer Sonata (1889) offers a compelling exploration of jealousy acting as a front for repressed homosexuality. Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (1913–1927), especially the section concerning Albertine, represents the claustrophobic nature of the passion of jealousy through the tropes of imprisonment, illness and death, while Michal Choromanski’s Jealousy and Medicine (1932) creates a landscape and a climate that recreate to the full the physical experience of jealousy. Freud’s reading of jealousy and his emphasis on repetitive structures inspires Iris Murdoch’s A Word Child (1975) in which the London subway symbolizes endless repetition of the same.



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