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The Effectiveness Of Shakespeare's Exposition Of Plot, Character, Theme And Atmosphere In The First Act Of Othello

1445 words - 6 pages

The Effectiveness of Shakespeare's Exposition of Plot, Character, Theme
and Atmosphere in the First Act of Othello

The action of the first scene increases the audience’s anticipation of
Othello’s first appearance. The audience learn Iago’s name in the
second line of the play and Roderigo’s soon afterward, but Othello is
not once mentioned by his name. Rather, he is ambiguously referred to
as “he” and “him.” He is also called “the Moor”, “the thick-lips” and
“a Barbary horse” all names signifying that he is dark-skinned.

Shakespeare’s exposition of plot is also effective, because in the
very first scene there seems to be a lot of action. Iago advises
Roderigo to spoil some of Othello’s pleasure in his marriage by
rousing Desdemona’s family against the general. The two men come to
the street outside the house of Desdemona’s father, Brabantio, and cry
out that he has been robbed by “thieves.” Iago speaks in inflammatory
terms, vulgarly telling the senator that his daughter and Othello are
having sex by saying that they are “making the beast with two backs”.
Brabanzio begins to take what he hears seriously and decides to search
for his daughter. Seeing the success of his plan, Iago leaves Roderigo
alone and goes to attend on Othello.

In scene 1 Iago plays on the senator’s fears, making him envisage a
barbarous and intimidating Moor, or native of Africa, whose inhuman
sexual appetite has turned him into a thief and a rapist. Knowing
nothing of Othello, one would expect that the audience, too, would be
seduced by Iago’s portrait of the general, but several factors keep us
from believing him. In the first place, Roderigo is clearly a pathetic
and jealous character. He adores Desdemona, but she has married
Othello and seems unaware of Roderigo’s existence. Roderigo doesn’t
even have the ability to woo Desdemona on his own: he has already
appealed to Brabantio for Desdemona’s hand, and when that fails, he
turns to Iago for help. Rich and inexperienced, Roderigo naively gives
his money to Iago in exchange for vague but unfulfilled promises of
amorous success.

This first Scene immediately creates suspense and tension because it
is the first scene that shapes the rest of the play. The audience are
anticipating what Othello is really like, but they also realise that
Iago is up to no good and that he will most likely do some unforgiving
act.

Shakespeare has Iago quote “Were I the Moor I would not be Iago.
In following him I follow but myself……. But I will wear my heart upon
my sleeve. For daws to peck at. I am not what I am”

In this early speech, Iago makes clear his plans to Roderigo. He
pursues Othello not out of “love” or “duty,” but because he feels he
can take advantage of and hoodwink his master, by this means revenging
himself upon the man he believes of having slept with his...

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