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Examine the presentation of Othello in Act One

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Introduction

'Examine the presentation of Othello in Act One' Katherine Rowley-Conwy 10S Othello is a play showing the disintegration of the mind of the main character, Othello. From being a trustworthy, sensible, calm and collected soldier, Othello becomes convinced his wife, Desdemona, is having an affair, all through the words and actions of Iago. Iago is a scheming, two-faced liar who cleverly twists what others say so that Othello will believe something which is not true. When Othello was first performed, in the Elizabethan times, it proved very controversial to the opinions and beliefs of the Elizabethans in the way that Shakespeare presented Othello, who has dark skin or, as the Elizabethans would say, is a 'moor.' The term moor could have been applied to Africans, Indians, or purely those from North Africa so it is difficult to pinpoint Othello's origin. The Elizabethans believed that moors in general were not as civilised as themselves, even monstrous, and Shakespeare uses these views when he presents Othello through other characters at the beginning of Act One, even though Othello is not at all like this. The play begins with Iago, and his 'friend' Roderigo talking about Othello. ...read more.

Middle

O heavy hour!' Othello can no longer think rationally or calmly. When speaking with Desdemona in Act Five he begins to speak in the same way as Iago- never quite getting to the point so to build up suspense, which Iago constantly uses. For example, in Act Fours Scene One, Iago speaks in very fragmented sentences such as 'Faith, that he did- I know not what he did.' This allows Othello's paranoid mind to get to work and hype up the facts without Iago actually saying them. Othello uses this style of speech when he is accusing Desdemona of having an affair with Cassio in Act Five: 'He hath confest...' At this point he pauses, allowing Desdemona to worry further about what she is being accused of, and question him. It also means that Othello himself becomes more worried as his mind races over the situation- something which Iago has changed in him to Iago's advantage. Although Othello is not quite as sly as Iago, his speech is nearing the same style, making it clear his character has completely changed because Iago has such an effect in him. ...read more.

Conclusion

The controversy surrounding it does not exist today, and the mystery of what black people were like was an added interest to the play. The way Othello is presented to us, the audience, in Act One is very important in relation to the rest of the play. Othello's death does not really affect anyone much for Desdemona is already dead, and so without the interest about how other characters see Othello the play would not be as exciting. The fact that he becomes near to what he was described as at first is a clever twist that Shakespeare has used- he descends into an irrational and jealous creature which Iago indicates, when with Roderigo, that he might be, and what the Elizabethans thought that 'moors' were like. The way that Othello descends into a completely different person means that the opinions of the Elizabethans may have been justified- Othello does turn out to be a bit monstrous as some Elizabethans considered black people. Othello's presentation of himself and by other characters makes the play much more entertaining and enjoyable, even today, because it highlights the prejudices that existed when the play was written. ...read more.

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