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Analyse the dramatic function of the opening of Othello

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Analyse the dramatic function of the opening of Othello 'Othello' was written between 1602 and 1603 by the well-known playwright William Shakespeare. The play has always been popular and has drawn tears from many of its audiences; they have become so emotional that people have fainted and in some instances women have given birth prematurely; this is the result of a very poignant and influential tragedy. 'Othello' is based upon love, tragedy, revenge, lies, betrayal, hatred and murder and through one man's callousness, egotism and thirst for money and power 'Othello' soon becomes a very satirical and sardonic play. The ardour and affection expressed by Othello and Desdemona as man and wife are soon challenged by Iago's mendaciousness. As the plot deepens more of the characters are consumed by Iago's nefarious plan and as they do so, inevitable turmoil arises. Their hasty and irrational actions result in the death of innocent characters. When the root cause of all this is found (Iago) the characters are left in a state of perplexity at how one man, who was perceived as being honest, could cause so much hate and destruction between a unified army of soldiers, friends, family and lovers. In the final part of 'Othello', conflict is juxtaposed with calm. After the deaths of Othello, Desdemona, Iago, Roderigo and Emilia, the remaining characters behold the consequences of their actions. ...read more.


He says, '...an old black ram is tupping your white ewe.' This is a very undiplomatic and blunt comment but has been purposely said by Iago for two reasons, firstly, Brabantio can only see Roderigo therefore it is on his head and secondly, he knows it will provoke Brabantio and reinforce his existing racial tension. This comment is then followed by, 'Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you.' Iago intentionally wakes Brabantio in the middle of the night; this is because he knows it will annoy him and make him grumpy. Anything he says will worsen his temper and his ill feeling towards Othello. In both these quotes Othello is referred to as an old black ram and the devil, not as a human being; he is discriminated against because of his colour. In the quote black ram, white ewe, the colours black and white are used to differentiate their races, just as they are today, but these colours also represent different meanings. In earlier times black was the colour of the devil, this portrays him as being an undesirable character to marry Desdemona. This is because white symbolises purity and someone who is unblemished. We are given the impression that Othello is an animal due to comments such as, 'your daughter covered with a Barbary horse; you'll have your nephews neigh to you', 'your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs' and 'your fair daughter'. ...read more.


Iago used Roderigo to tell Brabantio of his daughter's secret marriage. Brabantio is shown as strongly opposing Othello because of his colour; this shows him as being racist. His daughter Desdemona is described as beautiful, innocent and fair. Brabantio thinks her decision to marry Othello is one-sided. Iago and Roderigo are plotting against Othello and Iago speaks of his dislike for him. They call him a thief and often describe him as an animal. The audience wonders why two of his own officers speak so lowly of him. The dramatic function of the opening is to give the audience an impression of Othello; it is not good. This is very important as it is the first impression we get of him (he is not present in the opening) and first impressions last. He is not present yet the opening revolves around him and Desdemona. As said previously, Desdemona is shown to be unblemished and she is made to look like she is being exploited by Othello. The impression we get of him is that he is a tyrant, not very honorable and that he is very controlling. The reasons why the dramatic function of 'Othello' is so important is because it introduces the character, the plot, it gives clues about what is going to happen, it creates suspense, tension and drama and it shows conflict at the beginning which follows throughout; this is what makes it so tragic. ...read more.

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