Othello Commentary

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OTHELLO
ACT 1, SCENE 2

Shakespeare’s Othello is a play about love, jealousy and racism. Othello is a Moor, who is kidnapped as a child and brought to Venice, where he grows up, becomes a mercenary and through his bravery rises to the rank of General of the Venetian army. Othello is in love with the beautiful Desdemona, daughter of a senator and is secretly married to her. Iago, his junior, jealous of his success attempts to destroy Othello and Desdemona and through his machinations obliterates love, honour and beauty.

This passage marks the beginning of Act 1 Scene 2, and we see Iago come from badmouthing Othello to Roderigo and in this scene, he badmouths Roderigo to Othello. As in the first scene, the reader is sort of a voyeur, listening in to people’s conversations and making judgements or opinions of the characters based on the conversations we hear. Iago is a clever speaker and has a way with words. He has spoken of Othello to Roderigo in the first scene and called him all kinds of insulting names and adjudged him to be a criminal and bestial man. This scene begins with Iago, Othello and some attendants making their entrance. Iago recounts his supposed conversation with Roderigo to Othello and tells him that Roderigo has insulted Othello and Iago had been very upset with him and had tried everything to save Othello’s honour. He had also told Roderigo that despite his experience in battle, he had been overlooked for the job of Othello’s deputy.

In his conversation with Othello, he uses “trade of war” to demonstrate his experience as it his trade and he is an able soldier having killed many men in battle, but though Roderigo insulted Othello, it was only because of his conscience that he had been able to stop himself from stabbing Roderigo. In this manner he is able to show the goodness of his heart and also question Othello, if he remembers that he is an experienced soldier. His use of conscience and “contrived murder” attempt to show Othello...
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