How is Othello portrayed in Act 1?

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How is Othello portrayed in Act One?

The first we hear of Othello comes from Iago and Rodrigo in Act One Scene One. In a heated discussion, Iago decides to cause havoc in Brabintio’s family and decides to disclose his knowledge of Othello and Desdemona’s marriage. ‘…to tell you that you your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs.’ Here, we see Iago expressing what he knows to Brabantio in a particularly crude and disrespectful way; being disrespectful to both Brabinto and Othello. He uses the term ‘making the beast with two backs’ in sexual congress. It is said by Iago to form the idea that Desdemona and Othello are two becoming one, and in result ‘making’ a beast. This is extremely two-faced of Iago as he is supposed to be Othello’s trustworthy ensign. This behaviour from Iago foreshadows to the audience how his character may affect Othello later on in the play, and the level of disrespect and slyness we see in his character, allows us to question his motives towards Othello. To also describe the couple as making a beast suggests that this is his opinion upon Othello, that he is beast like and ruins a good, innocents woman by almost infecting her with the label he is being given too.

Iago goes on to further describe Othello in his speech to Brabintio, ‘To the gross clasps of a lascivious Moor.’ The phrase ‘gross clasps’ suggests that Desdemona is being clasped and taken by Othello, it suggests that their relationship is extremely controlling on Othello’s part and gives the representation that Othello has taken Desdemona against her will. This makes Othello sound evil and like he only has negative intentions towards Desdemona. The adjective ‘lascivious’ also suggests that Othello is sex crazed and focussed. This represents him as an antagonist who is out to take advantage of and ruin Desdemona, who is represented as a vulnerable, innocent woman who knows no better. In some ways, this could allow the reader to consider Othello as animal like, with what is described as an uncontrollable desire for sex.
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In Act One Scene Two, we meet Othello in a conversation between him and Iago. From what he says and from the way he speaks, here is where we can begin to question our first impressions that we accumulated of him in Act One Scene One. Othello talks of Desdemona in a way that is very different from how he is perceived to treat her in the previous scene. ‘But that I love the gentle Desdemona.’ The significance of what Othello says here is that he claims to love Desdemona. This is the first time that we hear ...

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