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, is very different from the Elizabethan audience. This is probably because the language of those times is very different from today, making it harder for us to understand the speech. The first scene gets the audiences of both dates ‘hooked’ anyway, making it a successful start to the play.
Looking back at the 2nd paragraph, we can see that neither Roderigo nor Iago speak kindly about Othello, using such statements as ‘An old black ram is tupping your white ewe’. This makes the audience slowly agree with these characters, and we believe that Othello is a nasty man. The reason Iago speaks with such poison is because of jealousy that Michael Cassio was promoted to Othello’s lieutenant rather than Iago, who is still an ensign. Another reason is that Iago thinks that Othello was having an affair with his wife, we do not know if this is actually true though. Shakespeare has used Iago’s character to tell these lies so immediately when we see the kind of person Othello really is, the audience will doubt Iago’s honesty and not trust him as much, with this tool, Shakespeare is slowly revealing the audience his plot and the machiavellian mind of Iago. Roderigo and Iago go to Brabantio’s house who is the father of the woman (Desdemona) that Othello is in love with. They confront him and tell him about the relationship between the two people and Brabantio is absolutely furious. Brabantio states ‘It is too true an evil, gone she is,’ showing his embarrassment of the secret marriage that Othello and Desdemona had. So far the audience is getting an image of a sly, offensive and facetious kind of man, just through the words and thoughts of Iago, Roderigo and Brabantio.
Othello finally enters in Scene 2. We can immediately see that he is very articulate and when he speaks of Desdemona, he speaks of pure love, ‘But that I love the gentle Desdemona’. His entrance totally contradicts the profile previously made in our mind. It was effective that we listened to other characters and their opinion on Othello and strongly believed that this was who Othello was, when in fact it wasn’t. In the courtroom Brabantio accuses Othello for such crimes as witchcraft and trickery when he affirms ‘She is abus’d, stol’n from me and corrupted, By spells and medicines...’ but we can see that Othello is genuinely a pleasant man with comebacks to these allegations including ‘Of my whole course of love, what drugs, what charms, what conjuration, and what mighty magic, (For such proceedings am I charged withal) I won his daughter.’ Othello is genuinely in love with Desdemona and we can easily see this whereas the hatred of him from people like Brabantio and Iago cannot be changed.
We know Othello is the hero in this playwright, in Scene 3 we see that he is ordered to go to Cyprus. In the audiences eyes he is now also seen as a brave and gallant General. His status slowly rises as we see more and more of his true self. Yet bit by bit, Iago is slowly manipulating Othello’s mind making him seem more and more evil as the thought of Desdemona having an affair becomes more and more realistic. Through this manoeuvring we can see Othello’s covetous and infuriated side which is not to be dealt with otherwise we would see him become very vicious.
To conclude, in my opinion, Shakespeare’s motives for delaying Othello’s entrance were effective. I am not racist but the use of language displayed in the first scene was very triumphant in making us despise this character that we had not yet met. He was also successful in making the audience be hesitant of Iago’s honesty. This was effective for the play because it was unusual and it played with the audiences mind.
Act 1, Sc 1, Line 66
Act 1, Sc 1, Line 126
Act 1, Sc 1, Line 88-89
Act 1, Sc 1, Line 160
Act 1, Sc 2, Line 25
Act 1, Sc 3, Line 60-61
Act1, Sc 3, Line 91-94