• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

An analytical commentary on Othello; Act 1 Scene 1 Lines 42-66 [I i 42-66]

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

IB English Othello An analytical commentary on Othello; Act 1 Scene 1 Lines 42-66 [I i 42-66] Act 1 is an exceptionally indicative passage of writing in which Shakespeare attempts to divulge the coarse essence of Iago's nature to the audience. Indeed, by the conclusion of line 66 the audience not only understands - in broad terms - Iago's motives and grievances, but also something of the manner in which he intends to consummate vengeance against his ostensible antagonists. Iago's interactions with Roderigo also serve to adumbrate, or perhaps anticipate, his adroit manipulation of those under his sphere of influence throughout the text. It is a credit to Shakespeare's astuteness that he is able to present the crucial circumstances of the play well before the end of the first act. During the formative stages of Act 1, Iago's argument with Roderigo provides a context for both men's grievances. Initially Roderigo accuses Iago of cheating him, of using his money 'as if the strings [of his purse] were [his]' (I i 3), and only later is Roderigo's obsession with Desdemona (and subsequent dislike of Othello) revealed. Iago uses unambiguous language to describe his grievances, essentially asserting that he was entitled to gain the promotion gifted to Cassio - 'the bookish theoric' - through an act of cronyism whereby Iago had been unjustly overlooked by the corrupt system of promotion whereby 'Preferment goes by letter and affection' (I i 36). ...read more.

Middle

He explicates the rudiments of his plan to Roderigo, asserting that 'In following [Othello], [he] follow[s] but [him]self' - that his service to Othello is only a means by which Iago is to secure his own ends. Essentially he attempts to convey a notion of self-serving ambition; that he, Iago, is willing to '[throw] shows of service on [his] lord', but that to genuinely subjugate himself to any master would be to demean his very soul2. Indeed, Iago issues an acerbic malediction of subjugates and servants, describing their 'obsequious bondage' and sad dependence on subsistence wages3 in the most contemptuous and scornful manner, savagely ejaculating 'whip me such honest knaves'! In this way, the oration itself takes steps toward establishing the essence of Iago's character, his disdainful condemnation of servitude, inaction and lack of ambition serving to exemplify and rationalise his feelings of superiority throughout the text. However, Iago continues to define a second and (in his way of thinking) more honourable or intelligent type of servant. While this 'knee-crooking knave ... wears out his time' in his grovelling service', there are others who 'Do themselves homage' by keeping 'their hearts attending on themselves' and, as has already been suggested, putting up only a fa´┐Żade of service. Iago goes so far as to say that although 'We cannot all be masters,' that not all masters should ever 'be truly followed' and implies a certain nobility in serving oneself. ...read more.

Conclusion

Here Iago is attempting to convey that if his true inclinations were known, it would leave him dangerously vulnerable, and that common sense should preclude any notion of disclosure or sincerity. This statement proves to be a sad truism, since Desdemona, Cassio and Othello are all sincere creatures, and Iago is able to consistently use that fact to his advantage to cause Othello's downfall. So Iago proves his own case for the virtues of insincerity and the dangers of honesty, and thereby concludes with the line 'I am not what I am.' This declaration epitomises the character of Iago, being a statement that describes not only his present state, but serves to describe his way of being. Everything Iago does is false, directed toward achieving his own ends. Even during his declaration his interlocutor, Roderigo, is being subjected to Iago's falsity, scorn and utter disdain. While he explicates his detestation of abject servitude, he holds the same silent contempt for Roderigo himself, whom he sees as an idiotic and subservient human being. It is, then, ironic that the only person with whom he shares his contempt for the grovelling servant, is one of his own. Chris Bolton 1 Used in Oxford's first sense: "the expression of meaning through the use of language which normally signifies the opposite" where Iago's literal suggestions are diametrically converse to their intended effect as demonstrated by his confessional soliloquy's 2 ' These fellows have some soul,' (I,i,54) 3 'For nought but provender' (I,i,48) ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Othello section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Othello essays

  1. othello. DISCUSS THE DRAMATIC IMPACT OF ACT 1 SCENE 3 AND ITS IMPORTANCE TO ...

    "with a little a web as this will ensure as great a fly as Cassio". His cunning make him a truly dastardly villain. Thoughout the play Iago is called "honest Iago". At one point in the play he even says this himself "I am a honest man".

  2. Othello - Examine the importance and effectiveness of Act III, scene 3, considering the ...

    In conclusion, Act III, scene 3 is the turning point in the play, and probably the most important scene in deciding Othello's fate. Othello's character changes completely from a strong willed General to a jealous monster, brought on by the teasing words of Iago.

  1. Discuss the dramatic impact of Act 1 Scene 3 and its importance to the ...

    ...The moor is of a free and open nature, That thinks men honest but seem to be so, And will as tenderly be led by the nose As asses are". Never the less, Iago still wants to destroy both. Othello and Cassio's lives.

  2. How is Act 1 Scene 1 an effective opening to Othello?

    However, Iago is in control. Shakespeare plays to his audience, who would be mainly servants, through Iago stressing he only follows Othello, his master, 'to serve my turn upon him'. Mystery surrounds this 'turn' and keeps the audience interested, as it is a lead to Othello's end.

  1. A Critical appreciation of Othello Act 1 Scene 1 line 41 - line 82, ...

    knaves outwardly give off the appearance of hard working and submissive servants, but inwardly they are working for their own agendas. Even though these knaves look as though they are sacrificing a lot for their masters with little apparent return, in fact they are using their masters to their advantage better than their masters are using them.

  2. Analyse the dramatic effect of the devices Iago uses in Act III Scene 3 ...

    This is a more likely motive. Notice, however, that although Iago says he has no proof of his wife's infidelity he will act upon it although it was true. These are not the actions of a sane man. He displays irrationality in his character.

  1. How and why does Iago convince Othello of Desdmona’s infidelity?

    Cassio does this completely innocently, he leaves because he doesn't want to annoy Othello any more than he has already, he feels disgraced and is ashamed, and he cannot face Othello. Iago successfully twists this situation- "That he would steal away so guilty like- seeing you coming."

  2. How does the presentation of Iago in Act1 sn1 lines 41-66 and Act1 sn3 ...

    He has chosen not to use enjambment, which he uses abundantly throughout the text. When listening to someone act out this speech, there would be a pause after this word that would let the audience have time to think about the statement just voiced.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work