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The opening of the play Othello begins with two men talking. Write about how this helps to convey dramatic tension and go to discuss the main themes of the play and Iagos character. You may consider, in comparison with the text, the opening of Ke

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English Coursework: Othello The opening of the play 'Othello' begins with two men talking. Write about how this helps to convey dramatic tension and go to discuss the main themes of the play and Iago's character. You may consider, in comparison with the text, the opening of Kenneth Branagh's film version, if you wish. The opening of the play is set in a street in Venice, at night. The darkness introduces the idea of confusion. Before the scene opens, Iago has been pretending to help a young gentleman, Roderigo, who has paid him to arrange a marriage with Desdemona, a young aristocrat. We learn about two actions of the general, Othello, who has appointed Michael Cassio, rather than Iago, as his lieutenant. Othello has also eloped with Desdemona. These two actions are the cause of Iago's later actions. There is an atmosphere of bitterness. The reason for this is that Roderigo has failed to win Desdemona and Iago has seen his hopes of promotion destroyed, resulting in his hatred of both Cassio and Othello. The argument between Iago and Roderigo and the plans of Iago introduce a mood of conflict from the very beginning of the play. ...read more.


Iago admits to Roderigo that he is untrustworthy and only pretends to be loyal to Othello, 'In following him, I follow but myself' (l.59). He hides his true character, so that nobody will suspect him, 'I am not what I am' (l.66). Desdemona has deceived her father by marrying without his consent which was important in the society of the time. The way Iago appears to others makes them trust him, but their failure to understand his real nature brings about the tragedy. Iago creates the impression that he does not think very highly of women which he emphasises by his actions later in the play. The comments he makes about their relationship are put in terms of animal sexuality, with no reference to the loving feelings they later show they have for each other. His crudeness reinforces the lustful impression he wants to create of their behaviour, that they are 'making the beast with two backs' (l.115). Iago is determined to destroy Brabantio's peace of mind by waking him and telling him how his daughter has disobeyed him. His crude & aggressive approach gets Brabantio's attention and makes him see the situation between Desdemona & Othello the way Iago wants, so that Brabantio will be forced to take action. ...read more.


He skilfully gets himself out of trouble at the end of the scene, he goes back into the shadows because he does not want Brabantio to know who he is, since this could affect his relationship with Othello. In addition to the introduction of the major themes and the character of Iago, we also learn that Othello is an outsider, his race and his background make him different from the aristocrats he serves. The problems caused by the marriage of Desdemona and Othello are shown at the end of the scene by the negative reactions of Iago, Roderigo and Brabantio to the situation and particularly to the fact that he is black and she is white. The first scene is very important because it sets the scene the whole play. It gives us an idea of where it is being taken place, the canals, in Venice. At the start of the play we see two men whispering to one another, this adds dramatic tension. It also introduces some of the characters and suggests that the play will have a tragic ending and hints at the themes of the play. Iago is manipulating people and using them as his puppets to achieve his revenge, he admits 'I am not what I am', this gives us some idea that the play will turn out to be a tragic. 2 1 ...read more.

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