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How does the opening act of Othello prepare the audience for the outcome of the play?

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Introduction

How does the opening act of Othello prepare the audience for the outcome of the play? The play Othello portrays the story of the protagonist Othello (The Moor) and his loved one- Desdemona- and his struggles to overcome a racist society in 17th century Venice. In the meantime Iago, one of Othello's closest friends' plots revenge on him, as Othello passed him over for an important position in the army and gave it to Cassio, an outsider from Florence. The outcome of the play reveals that Iago's plan has been successful- Desdemona is murdered by Othello in a spate of jealousy and anger, caused by Iago's cunning machinations. Othello soon realizes his mistake and damns himself by committing suicide. While Iago is found out and taken away to be tortured, the audience still realizes that his plot has succeeded- he took over the military position and took revenge on both Cassio and Othello. The opening act provides the audience with clues which hint at the outcome of Othello. Act one establishes Othello's and Iago's characters, and how they are diametrically opposed. It establishes the prejudice faced by Othello as a black man in a white society, Desdemona's loyalty to him as his wife, the setting of conflict and war, the themes of jealousy, betrayal and pride and the insecurity which Othello has in himself. ...read more.

Middle

Again, Othello uses complicated language to put forward his point, and reinforces it by using repetition of "of" as well as alliteration of "flood and field". This again makes him greatly different from Iago, who uses crude language. This also shows Othello's honesty, integrity and transparency- Othello never once speaks falsehood and does not speak lies even when it would be better for him to. However, this puts him at a disadvantage- Othello's honesty is something Iago can manipulate. Indeed, Iago is one of Othello's most trusted servants: "Honest Iago... I prithee, let thy wife attend to her, [Desdemona] and bring her after in the best advantage" Othello trusts Iago with such a degree that he entrusts his very own wife to him. The irony of Othello using "honest" is great- it is a word Othello should use to describe himself, not his servant. Iago, the eternal deceiver can take advantage of his blind trust, using it against him. Only the audience and Roderigo know of Iago's wicked intentions, and it creates a sense of dread that such confidence can only lead to disaster. In act 1, Othello and Iago are established as conflicting characters- opposites in all they stand for. Othello, the black moor is truthful, educated, loving and peaceful, while Iago is a deceptive, crude, destructive and war-loving. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is engendered Hell and Night Must bring this monstrous birth to the world's light" The use of inversion of black and white- night and light- is ironic, and offers a contrasted vision of Iago's plans. This irony is further emphasised by the use of light, which makes it seem like a good plan- which it is, in Iago's vision. But most importantly it is the rhyming couplet- Iago's use of speech for once is not crude- rather it is as sophisticated as Othello's. This is the only time when Iago speaks in such a way- and its rhyme implies its perfection. The audience, at the end of act one will without a doubt realize that Iago's plan will work. It is thus possible to see that act one provides a plethora of hints and visions for the end of the play- it shows us how Iago could possibly exact his revenge on Othello and how others are fooled by him, as well as the end result. Probably the most important factor in act one which decides on the ending of the play is the establishment of Othello's and Iago's contrasting personalities. Shakespeare establishes a definite good side and an evil side with a definite split between the two. Thus, it encourages the notion of a final battle in the end of the play. The audience will expect one of the sides to win- and indeed Iago, the antagonist prevails over Othello. ...read more.

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