The Deepest Depths of Schadenfreude Essay

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As boldly stated by Alfred Pennyworth in The Dark Knight, “Some men just want to watch the world burn.” They find pleasure in others’ pain and misfortune. In Shakespeare’ Othello, Iago portrays this exact character type. Whether a result of nature, nurture, or jealousy, Iago bases his actions solely in an effort to destroy Othello. Countless scientists and philosophers have, for years, debated the argument between whether nature or nurture determines how a person acts. From Freud, to Charles Darwin, to even Shakespeare himself, the debate has continued for centuries. The nature side of the argument, a much more scientific approach, states that a person’s being is set in stone from the day he or she is born. Genetics play a pivotal role. …show more content…
Even worse, he grows suspicious that Othello has slept with his wife, and expresses the desire to take revenge:
“Hath leaped into my seat; the thought whereof
Doth, like a poisonous mineral, gnaw my inwards;
And nothing can or shall content my soul
Till I am evened with him, wife for wife.” (Shakespeare 40).
Iago proves that he is willing to commit any action possible, even destroying the lives of the innocent, to get vengeance and enjoy their pain.
Yet another possible explanation of his evil ways is that Iago expresses a great deal of schadenfreude. A common theory about why this exists is that Iago possesses low self-esteem or self-affirmation. Results from a 2007 study determined that participants with low self-esteem felt “more threatened by [successful people] and enjoyed the misfortune [of others] more than participants with a high self-esteem” (Campobasso). Some philosophers have stated that schadenfreude is an immediate inclination toward evil, and the “worst trait in human nature.” Of course it is unfair to claim that Iago simply lacked self-esteem. But we do know that Iago was an unmarried, twenty-eight year old male. He recently dealt with the pain of not being promoted to Lieutenant. Iago experienced the type of events that could easily cause this sort of inferiority in anyone. So while we can never know whether or not Iago had these “insecurities,” it is

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