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How Important Is Act 1 In Establishing The Main Themes And Underlying Issues Of The Play?

1141 words - 5 pages

Ankit SehgalHow important is Act 1 in establishing the main themes and underlying issues of the play?There are many themes in act 1 which makes it clear to the audience what kind of genre this play is which is a tragedy. Through the themes that are in the first scene the audience will get an insight as to how the play will develop.The first theme the audience come across is jealousy and this is portrayed through Iago, he is jealous that Othello had already "chosen my officer." This makes Iago very upset and shocked because he then starts comparing his attributes to Cassio's and describes him as a 'fair wife.' In this era men were the most dominant and were perceived as being better than women, so for a man to be called a 'wife' tells the audience that this man is weak, what this would do is make Iago seem a lot more powerful than Cassio and be better suited to be Othello's right hand man in his army. In addition, Iago starts talking about the battles he has faced in 'Rhodes, at Cyprus, and on other grounds.' It is clear that Iago is trying to win the audience over by saying how brave he is and he uses the battlegrounds he has fought at to do so. By saying 'on other battle grounds' it makes the audience think as if Iago has been in so many battles that he cannot remember all of them; in this era, if you were in the army you were deemed a hero and the more battles you were in the more honour you would gain, so the fact that Iago has been in countless battles makes the audience start to think that maybe Othello made the wrong decision in choosing Cassio as his lieutenant. Moreover, Iago's long speech tells the audience that he is clearly jealous of Cassio and the way Iago ends his verse by saying ' I am not what I am' this adumbrates that he will try to get Cassio stripped off his status and it is a warning to the audience to beware of him. Moreover, Roderigo is also jealous of Othello, not because of status, but because he has won over Desdemona instead of him. It is clear to the audience that Rodergio is infatuated with Desdemona when Brabantio says "My daughter is not for thee" not only does this make the audience dislike Roderigo, but make them feel as if Roderigo has no self respect, as Brabantio has said this it gives further motivation to Roderigo to try and make sure that Othello suffers.Secondly, the next theme the audience are shown is racism. This is most evident in act 1 scene 2 although it is present in act 1 scene 1. Iago refers to Othello as a 'moore' and not Othello thus stripping his identity making Othello seem irrelevant and weaker than Iago which is ironic considering Othello is of a higher rank and status than Iago. This tells the audience that despite being a higher status than Iago, Iago seems himself as being higher up in the hierarchy than Othello due to Othello being black and living in Venice which is predominantly a white city Othello would be classed as a second class citizen due to his skin colour. This is highlighted...

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