Othello: the Outsider(Acts 1 and 2)

Topics: Othello, Iago, Michael Cassio Pages: 3 (893 words) Published: May 7, 2012
Othello: The Outsider (Acts 1 and 2)

It is without a doubt that Shakespeare chooses to expound on the concept of the outsider in the first two acts of the play because this concept or theme will be of paramount importance especially in the later parts of the play. Shakespeare seeks to craft this concept of the outsider in a dramatically effective manner by giving definition to what constitutes being an outsider and what are the implications of being an outsider. This essay ultimately argues that Shakespeare does an excellent job in setting the stage for dramatic tension and conflict in the later acts. However, the inherent flaw in Shakespeare’s dramatic presentation of the outsider remains the extremeness and sheer implausibility of the play’s events in reality.

The very first hint on what an outsider is manifests itself in Iago’s complaints regarding Othello and his chosen lieutenant, Michael Cassio. Shakespeare specifically constructs a scene whereby issues of hierarchy and power gets thrown about in Iago and Roderigo’s conversation. Here, Shakespeare highlights the differences between an ensign and a lieutenant. In act one, scene one, Iago’s cries of society being unfair to him, in “And I, God bless the mark, his Moorship’s ancient” and “preferment goes by letter and affection And not by old gradation” can be seen. Shakespeare took this opportunity to show how positions in hierarchy brought prestige and advantages. Hence, the “insiders” possess things that distinguish themselves from the “outsiders”. In this case, the senators and powerful Venetian folk were on the inside and the ordinary citizens were on the outside. Iago’s perception that he was on the outside would eventually lead him to struggle for recognition and acceptance through manipulating others. Therefore, Shakespeare effectively sets the stage for dramatic tension in the later acts by capitalising on Iago’s discontent in being an outsider.

Still on the issue of differences, we see that...
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