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Act one Scene one is shot through with layers of irony and double meaning. How does Shakespeare set up the major themes in the play?

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Clover Whitty Act one Scene one is shot through with layers of irony and double meaning. How does Shakespeare set up the major themes in the play? Irony and double meaning are the basis and patterns of Othello, in which nothing is what it seems to be; white is black and generally the characters and themes have contradictory aspects. Irony is one of the characteristics of tragedy as the outcome, although inevitable, is unfair. In Act 1 scene 1, Shakespeare sets up the main themes of: jealousy, revenge, xenophobia and racism, love, outward appearance and inward reality and deception. Act 1 Scene 1 is laced with irony, which mainly centres around the character of Iago. Although Iago openly expresses his desire to seek vengeance, Shakespeare presents his character in such a way that the audience are never sure of the validity of what he says. When he speaks to Roderigo, he seems to be open about his insincerity when he says 'I am not what I am'. This leaves the audience feeling aware from the beginning of the play that appearances of Iago are not what they seem and introduces the audience to his devious nature as he attacks Othello's character to others but appears to be a faithful friend at the same time. ...read more.


This jealousy and the associated desire for revenge are what drives Iago's actions as he wants to disrupt Othello's life and take his retribution. It is clear that Iago is bitter and disappointed and is so because he is driven by this hatred. Iago appears to be completely set in his aim to bring about the destruction of Othello and is able to do this as he can get close to him and therefore plot against him to bring about his downfall. Iago is an opportunist, he uses Roderigo with the aim of causing trouble for Othello. His manipulative nature continues throughout the scene and he seems to be skilfull at achieving a desired outcome by carefully choosing his words and line of reasoning to suit the situation. He is able to influence others by manipulating situations and people. He urges Roderigo to call on Brabantino 'call upon her father/Rouse him, make after him, poison his delights'. He alarms Brabantio by causing chaos in the darkness outside his house so that Brabantio believes he has been disturbed by a madman. ...read more.


Shakespeare introduces the theme of love and the power of love in this first act. As he presents Desdemona and Othello's unconventional relationship. Desdemona is obviously so in love with Othello that she is prepared to disobey her father and elope with Othello. They are prepared to go against convention and marry secretly. Despite their social, cultural, and racial backgrounds. The introduction of the marriage creates tension and conflict A theme which runs throughout the play. Desdemona exerts her power and independence in a patriarchal society and demonstrates that she is able to chose her own husband, as Brabantino observes, 'O, she deceives me'. From the reaction of other characters it is clear that their marriage is going to cause disruption throughout the play because they act so strongly against it. The action and the themes introduced by Shakespeare in Act one Scene one, are very important as they set the scene for the rest of the play and they give the audience an insight to the characters and the events that are to come. Iagos scheming nature and his jealousy are introduced which leads him to the revenge and corruption which is one of the causes of the downfall of the other characters and that tragic events that take place. ...read more.

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