Green Monster meaning
The green-eyed monster can lead even the most respected and beloved men to murder. In this lesson, we will take a look at the meaning and origin of the phrase, plus William Shakespeare's take on the perils of the green-eyed monster.
Jealousy can lead even the nicest people to do awful things. That's why it's often referred to as the green-eyed monster. Because it's so universal in human nature, jealousy is a common theme in storytelling. It's one of the rawest human emotions, and if left unchecked, it will most likely result in devastating consequences.
Jealousy is typically used to reflect a person's feelings towards another person. This is opposed to the similar but slightly different word envy, which usually results when a person becomes resentful of what another has or has accomplished.
So if you're in a relationship and your girlfriend is talking with her ex-boyfriend again, you may become jealous. But if you've been working at a company for ten years and someone who just started six months ago gets promoted over you, you would be envious of them.
The Power of the Idiom
Let's break down the phrase: 'green-eyed monster' is considered an idiom. An idiom is a figurative expression that adds a little spice to our everyday language. Sure, we could say that someone is 'really jealous.' But think about the image that is conjured up in your mind when you think of the phrase 'green-eyed monster.' Perhaps we see a large, scary beast with huge claws ten times our size and two deadly green eyes that stare right through you.
It is said that the phrase originated from the idea that when a person was sick, their skin turned a yellow or a green color. In addition, unripe fruit (which will make you sick when you eat it) is also the color green.
No one knows for sure who first came up with the term 'green-eyed monster' or when it was first used. However, William Shakespeare is often credited with being the first author to use the phrase in his written work.William Shakespeare often wrote about jealousy
The Merchant of Venice
The first time Shakespeare uses a derivative of the term 'green-eyed monster' is in his play The Merchant of Venice (1596). Note that here he uses 'green-eyed jealously' instead. He's not quite turned jealousy into a beast just yet.
How all the other passions fleet to air,
As doubtful thoughts, and rash-embraced despair,
And shuddering fear, and green-eyed jealousy! O love,
Be moderate; allay thy ecstasy,
In measure rein thy joy; scant this excess.
I feel too much thy blessing: make it less,
For fear I surfeit.
The actual play The Merchant of Venice is a comedy about bitterness, love, money, arranged marriage, friendship and shady dealings with a moneylender. The quote from Portia above is more about being overcome with love than it is about jealousy. Its personification of jealousy seems to be just a way to describe the characteristics involved with being in love.
Othello (1603) is Shakespeare's play that is most associated with the hazards of jealousy. The tragedy is about a black Venetian general named Othello. Othello promotes a young, intelligent officer named Cassio to be lieutenant over a man named Iago. The promotion makes Iago incredibly envious of young Cassio, and he vows revenge by destroying Othello and blaming Cassio.
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What does the expression green eyed monster mean?
If someone calls you a "green eyed monster" they are saying you are jealous. It's similar to the expression, "green with envy". Some people say this phrase comes from the Marvel Comic Book character, The Incredible Hulk, but it most likely originated from Shakespeare as he referred to "green eyed jealousy" in his play, The Merchant Of Venice; as well as "the green eyed monster" in Othello.