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Othello - Provide a detailed prose commentary on Act one, Scene one of the play, highlighting particularly what we learn of Iago's character and his motivation, from his comments to Roderigo.

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Introduction

Provide a detailed prose commentary on Act one, Scene one of the play, highlighting particularly what we learn of Iago's character and his motivation, from his comments to Roderigo. Act one, Scene one opens with a conversation between the characters Iago and Roderigo in darkness. In Elizabethan times night/darkness represented evil; darkness and night are Iago's elements in this play. The conversation between the two characters sets the scene for what is to follow. Roderigo has been paying Iago because he wants him to get Desdemona to marry him after failing to prove himself a suitable husband to her father Brabantio, Roderigo is now angry because Iago has just informed him that Othello and Desdemona have eloped together and got married. Iago and Roderigo's relationship is based on deceit, Iago holds Roderigo in contempt throughout the play and exploits him for the fool he is. We learn Iago never got the position of Othello's lieutenant and Iago is therefore not happy about this because he has served Othello for a long time. Even after three others of the Senate had put forward Iago's case to Othello he still chose Cassio, an arithmetician with no battle experience. Iago presents the audience with an image of what kind of person Othello is. "But he, as loving his own pride and purposes, Evades them with a bombast circumstance Horribly stuffed with epithets of war, And in conclusion Nonsuits my mediators." ...read more.

Middle

"Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago. In following him, I follow but myself." He goes onto say that when he does let people see what he is doing he will show all his emotions and then he'll be vulnerable, therefore to prevent being vulnerable people can never see what he really is. "I am not what I am" Iago here is saying that he never is what he appears to be and is therefore contradicting himself. Then we hear the first of several racial insults towards Othello spoken by Roderigo. "What a full fortune does the thick-lips owe, If he can carry't thus!" Iago knows that he cannot get rid of Othello because the state needs him to lead and win the battle, so he decides that instead he will harass him with petty things and therefore change Othello's current joy to something less pleasant. Yet when Iago and Roderigo arrive at Brabantio's house to inform him of his daughter's marriage to Othello, this being to aggravate Brabantio and get Othello in trouble, Iago only ever speaks from the background. It is after all dark an Iago is 'in his element' yet doesn't want to reveal his identity as it would jeopardise his position if Othello found out it was he whom had told Brabantio of the elopement. ...read more.

Conclusion

Iago does realise thought that Othello cannot be sacked because he is needed to protect the empire because there is no one else who is able to repel the invasion. When Brabantio enters in his nightgown with his servants and torches the light is literal and symbolic to the audience. The forces of light/goodness are finding it difficult to overcome the darkness/evil, its like the darkness is trying to overcome the light and swallow it up. Brabantio realises that what he has been told is true and is not happy because he lives for his daughter, he feels betrayed by Desdemona yet believes if his daughter had done it and appeared so honest then Othello must have used some kind of drug to cart her off, he believes that daughters shouldn't be trusted by what they are seen doing. Brabantio shows his prejudice as he speaks to Roderigo even though he had just told Roderigo he didn't deserve Desdemona. "Call up my brother. -O would you had had her! -" He tells Roderigo that he deserves his criticism for treating him so bad when all he was doing was trying to help. At the end Of Act one we are left with not such a good impression of Othello, he appears to have tricked Desdemona, and be proud, egotistic, bombastic and full of self worth, whereas Iago seems to be deceitful and vengeful yet to everyone else honest and trustful. ...read more.

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