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Analysis of Othello and Iago in Act 1

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 10:08 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 54.4 
  • Words: 793
  • Essay Grade: 3,00 /5 (1 Graders)
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The events that occur in the first half of Act 1 are all in anticipation of the lead character Othello who we are not immediately introduced too. We learn Iago’s name in the second line of the play and Roderigo’s soon after, but Othello is not mentioned by his name once. Instead he is referred to as ‘he’, ‘him’ and is frequently described as ‘the moor’ (1.1.58) he is also described as having ‘thick lips’ (1.1.67) and later as being a ‘Barbary horse’ (1.1.111) is continuously described by his critics, mainly Iago, as a ‘moor’, demonstrating Iago’s frequently concerning nature of race and also portraying Othello as something of an alien. From this reference we are able to immediately understand Iago’s true feelings and motives for Othello.


The audience at this point know nothing of Othello that is gained by their own opinion, instead we are lead to believe from Iago’s race related description that Othello is a threatening and evil moor, whose beastial sexual appetite, conveyed by Iago’s cries to Brabantio, telling him that ‘an old black ram is tupping’ his ‘white ewe’ (1.1.89), is something of a rapist. Iago’s coarse animal related language conveys Iago’s feelings against Othello’s marriage in a much more pronounced way. The image of an ‘old black ram’ gives the audience nothing but negative images of Othello, especially when this ‘old black ram’ is being associated with the innocence of a ‘white ewe’. Iago then associates Othello with the image of ‘the devil’ (1.1.92) because of Othello’s colour, Iago warns Brabantio that he has ‘lost half [his] soul’ now that Desdemona is married to Othello. Iago here emphasises the biracial nature of the marriage, already showing his ability to manipulate people, in this case he is manipulating Brabantio, to believe in Iago’s own opinions and in theory to eliminate all thoughts that Brabantio might of had of his own about the marriage.


Despite the negative foregrounding of Othello’s character by Iago, our first...

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  1. not too bad