Othello Act 1 Commentary

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Topics: Othello
‘Othello’ Act 1 Commentary
In the first act of Othello, the antagonist of the play, Iago, is introduced rather than Othello himself. Iago and Roderigo are known to the audience in the beginning while Othello’s name is never mentioned in the first scene but is referred to as ‘he’ ‘him’ ‘moor’ etc. which creates anticipation in the audience. But as the play develops Iago mentions Othello a lot by giving him different other names. These named used by Iago gives us an impression that Othello is a bad character in the play. The theme of racism in the play begins with the start of act 1 as Iago uses a lot of imagery to denote the marriage of Othello to Desdemona. Iago yells to Brabantio “an old black ram is tupping your white ewe," which gives us an impression that Othello is an evil rapist. The audience who know nothing about Othello till now are deceived by the animal imagery used by Iago. Moreover, Iago uses juxtaposition of ‘black’ and ‘white’ with the fierce animal imagery makes this idea even more repellent. In addition, Iago says "you'll have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse” to address the same idea of Othello being animal-like and his almost bestial desire and illicit passion. This harsh language used by Iago clearly shows the hatred of Iago towards his master and his marriage. The words and language Iago uses to describe Othello helps audience to visualize how Iago views his master in his mind. Iago thinks that Othello is the ‘devil’ and he uses this term to address Othello throughout the play. The audience get negative impression of Othello in the first scene.
When Othello finally appears audience come to know that Othello is nothing like Iago had portrayed him to be. Instead, he is an honest and honourable man with self-control and nobility. When Iago warns Othello that Brabantio is coming to his to take Desdemona away, Othello refuses to hide saying that “I must be found. My parts, my title, and my perfect soul shall manifest me right”. Othello

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