Why does Shakespeare delay Othello's entrance in Act 1 of the play? In your opinion, are his motives for doing so effective?

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Sarah Troy, 2835


Why does Shakespeare delay Othello’s entrance in Act 1 of the play? In your opinion, are his motives for doing so effective?

In this piece of coursework I will be looking at the reasons why Shakespeare delayed Othello’s entrance until Scene 2 of Act 1 in the play. I will also look at points such as the audience’s perception of Iago, and our views of Othello before and after his entrance. I will also talk about the historical, social and cultural contexts and I will look at critical opinions, authorial intentions and language analysis.

Othello is set in the early 17th Century when Shakespeare (the playwright) was in his middle ages. The location it was set in was Venice (a pleasurable, tranquil place) and Cyprus (a bad atmospheric, violent place). In the first scene in Act 1, we see Iago and Roderigo talking to each other. Iago is the character telling us all about Othello. The word often used to describe him is ‘the Moor’. This means very black people, which in Elizabethan times were believed to be evil. Nowadays of course, we know that this is not true. Other quotes highlighting the blackness and mystery of Othello include ‘What a full fortune does the thicklips owe,’ quoted by Roderigo early on in the Act referring to his lips. Another quote that he says is ‘to the gross clasps of a lascivious moor:’ again speaking negatively about Othello. Shakespeare intentionally made Othello a black character to create an impact on the audience, although it was more effective when it was acted out in Elizabethan times because they were so critical of coloured people.

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In Shakespeare’s play ‘Othello’, the eponymous hero doesn’t actually make an entrance until the second scene. This has been done deliberately to give an effective result at the beginning of the play. Shakespeare uses many dramatic devices in this production and compared to many other scripts that he has written, in most tragic genres, the tragic hero almost always enters in the first scene but this is not so in Othello.

        One reason why Shakespeare has done this is so the audience can build up a profile of Othello in their heads before actually meeting them. The audience now though, ...

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