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Oral Commentary Response to 'Othello' 1.1.34-72

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Oral Commentary Response to 'Othello' 1.1.34-72 This passage is a revelatory passage which comes very near to the beginning of the play Othello. Cassio has just been appointed by Othello as his lieutenant and it seems that Iago is irate that he was not chosen. It is in this extract that we first see Iago's outlook on life and it is the first time he is revealed to us as the villain of the play. We also see the beginnings of Iago's plan, which he carries out throughout the play with disastrous consequences and indeed immediately after this extract we see the first enactment of this plan, when Iago tries to use Brabantio's beliefs about race and relationships to make him break up the relationship of his daughter Desdemona and Othello. I shall be talking about Iago's outlook on life and the beginnings of his scheming as revealed by this passage. The only two characters on stage through the whole extract are Iago and Roderigo and although they are in dialogue, it is more like a monologue from Iago as Iago has many long speeches, while Roderigo only seems to make short remarks in the pauses in Iago's speeches. ...read more.


Iago is certainly very fond of animal imagery, or indeed euphemism, as is shown again later in the play by his references to 'the beast with two backs', when referring to the copulation of Desdemona and Othello. Iago is very much obsessed here with the fate and possibly plight of the subjected, the servant. Perhaps his lamentation about the general state of society and the unjustness of the hierarchical system is simply an expansion of his woe for his own failure to be promoted. As I referred to previously, a theme brought up here that is repeated throughout the rest of the play is the motif of appearance and reality and the deception of outer mien hiding the inner actuality. Iago mentions this many times during this passage, firstly in his description of the what he considers true servants as I have discussed, but more specifically in 1.1.49 'visages of duty', in 1.1.51 'shows of service' and in 1.1.59 the word 'seeming'. The word 'seem' encapsulates this whole motif and it is important because when Iago is using it here, although he is talking about generality, he has admitted that he indeed fits and prides himself in that he is like the stereotype he has described. ...read more.


That phrase is arguably the most important phrase from this extract. In one sentence it encapsulates the whole meaning of much of the rest of Iago's speech in this extract. It not only reveals so much in the way of Iago's character, but also the character of society in the real world. Iago here is saying that we cannot all be powerful or in charge and that not all of those who are in charge should be or are followed truly. Whether this is because the powerful being is not fit to have such a position or whether it is merely the decision of the powerless not to follow those superior in rank for whatever reason, the fact remains that the hierarchical system within our society leads to such betrayals of duty. The choice between these two has to be made with regard to individual cases, but whatever the reasons why, this situation occurs both in the play and in society as a whole. Indeed much of the play is about the tensions caused by the strict hierarchical system and the subversions of those not in power from those in power and as the basis for the play, this sentence is crucial within the context of the play. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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