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Examine Shakespeare’s presentation of Iago in act 1 and how this prepares the audience for his role in the rest of the play.

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Examine Shakespeare's presentation of Iago in act 1 and how this prepares the audience for his role in the rest of the play. Act I in Othello is crucial to the rest of the play. It sets out all of the themes that run through out the play as well as the characters and the way in which the play is written. All of the characters are introduced one by one with Iago dominating the play. He tells us what is going on and tells us what he is going to do. The themes of the play are trust: this is the trust between Othello and Iago, Cassio and Othello, Cassio and Iago and Othello and Desdamona. Sex is another theme, race, power and class also play big roles through out the first act. In act 1 Iago is present when he and Roderigo are standing in a street in Venice. Iago speaks of how he hates Cassio and Othello. The plot then leads on to when they awaken Brabantio but they do it in completely different ways, Roderigo loudly say " What ho! Brabantio! Signor Brabantio, ho!" ...read more.


He said that he would always agree and it was these past life events that were sometimes so unbelievable that attracted Desdemona to him. The Duke hears what Othello had said and reply with " I think this tale would win my daughter too." (act 1 sc 3). Brabantio asks for Desdemona to tell her side of the story and if what Othello has said is true he would leave them be. Desdemona to her farther disappointment told him that what Othello had said was true. Once all of the business had been sorted out everyone except Iago and Roderigo left the room. Roderigo could not believe what Desdamona had just said and was very upset. Roderigo said he would kill himself, Iago quickly said that that would be a stupid idea. Iago told Roderigo that Desdamona is only with Othello because she lusts for him. Iago has now started to demonise love, suggesting that there is no love, only lust for sex. He has to persuade Roderigo not to kill himself and so uses a verbal battering ram. He says, " .....Put money in thy purse - follow thou the wars; defeat thy favor with usurped beard. ...read more.


The time when Shakespeare wrote this the whole play would have been completely acceptable, perhaps with a little objection to the sexually descriptive language that Iago often used. In my own view I think that the first act is a brilliant piece of dramatic writing. It has some brilliant soliloquies and allows the audience to become involved in the play. Shakespeare presents Iago as a devilish villain. A Machiavellian villain willing to do any thing to get revenge on Othello for not giving him the job of lieutenant and he thinks that Othello has slept with his wife. However as the play progresses these may not be the only reasons. His gulling of the majority of the cast shows us the power he has over them and so prepares us for our own gulling at the end of the play where he is asked why he did it, and he replies, " Demand me nothing - what you know, you know - from this time forth, I never will speak word" (act 5 sc2) Even at the end of the play when it seems that he has lost all of his power and the cast and the audience have been reinstated. He says this, once more allowing him to pick up the strings and become the puppet master again. ...read more.

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