Othello: The Dramatic Impact Of Act 1 Scene 3 And Its Importance To The Play As A Whole Analysis

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‘Othello’ is a classic play written by William Shakespeare in the 17th century. The play is about evil, betrayal, trust and demonstrates the society of the time.

It also has a classic tragic ending much like ‘Romeo and Juliet’. The main character is Othello, the only black character in the play. Desdemona, a white woman, gives up her family for her love for Othello. It seemed that the ‘noble moor’ had a perfect marriage.

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This perfect marriage and bond however is destroyed by Iago’s deception and trickery.Iago’s motives are that he wants revenge on Othello promoting Cassio over himself and through planting the seeds of suspicion into the moors mind his marriage dies and in its place jealousy and anger grows to the point of death. Iago is a deceiving, untrustworthy and evil character in the play. As a result of Iago’s evil, not only Othello’s but also other innocent lives are lost.

Act 1 scene 3 opens with the Duke and the Senators in council, they are in a very important meeting about their enemy the “Turks”. The first stage direction in Act 1 Scene 3 is ‘set at a table with lights’.These candle lights are an indication that it is night time because during Shakespeare’s time his plays were all preformed live on stage during the day and the only way to indicate to the audience that it was night was to display a candle to show the absence of light. The Duke and the Senators are worried about the number of Turkish galleys and where they are heading.

The number of Turkish ships is not clear because the senator believes there are a ‘hundred and seven galleys’; on the other hand the Duke thinks there’s ‘a hundred and forty’.The Duke and the Senators receive contradictory reports. The destination of the ships approaching has also not been confirmed. A sailor then enters an says: “The Turkish preparation makes for Rhodes” However the Duke knows that the Turkish are trying to create a diversion in order to draw the attention away from Cyprus and says: “Nay, in all confidence he’s not for Rhodes” He also notifies the senators that it is a trick the Turkish are trying to play so that their attack would be a surprise.

The fact that the Duke realises this shows he is wise.This scene will also attract the attention of the audience because important people of the city are gathered around to talk about something important. The audience will listen carefully to their discussions. Suddenly there is a dramatic entrance of Brabantio and Othello.

The Duke greets Brabantio first “Welcome, gentle signor. ” However the Duke straight away concentrates on Othello, that they need to “employ” Othello “against the general enemy Ottoman. ” The comparison of how the Duke addresses Othello to Brabantio shows just how well Othello is regarded in Venetian society.The arrival of Brabantio is unexpected but the Duke asks for his “counsel” and “help”.

The dramatic irony in the play is that the audience know that Brabantio has been cursing Othello because of Othello marrying Brabantio’s daughter, Desdomona. The Senators and the Duke do not know this when Othello and Brabantio enter. Shakespeare gives dramatic impact to their entrance as Brabantio, Othello, Cassio, Iago, Roderigo and officers all enter at once. This rush of all the major characters attracts the attention of the audience, indicating to the audience that something important is about to happen.

Brabantio is referred to by name because he is a senator, therefore has a high position in society. The fact that Othello is referred to as the ‘Moor’ is a sign, which shows the racism of the time. ‘Moor’ is the word used to describe a black person from North Africa. When the first thing the Duke says is ‘Valiant Othello’ the immediate effect on the audience is that the Duke has a very high opinion of Othello.

This is also the first and only time someone calls Othello by his name. By analysing the first speech made by Brabantio I can see that he is a selfish person because he only cares about himself.He storms into an important meeting regarding the security of Venice, and tells the Duke about his own problems. He then goes on to say that Othello has corrupted Desdomona’s mind against him ‘by spells and medicines bought of mountebanks’.

Brabantio even goes to the extent of accusing Othello of using ‘witchcraft’ because Desdomona is ‘not deficient, blind, or lame of sense’ and without witchcraft it is not possible. This shows how much he doesn’t want the marriage of Othello and Desdomona to be accepted and wants the Duke to take some kind of action against Othello.After being accused of doing black magic and witchcraft on Brabantio’s daughter, Othello makes a very intellectual speech. Othello confirms what he has been accused of and justifies his actions.

He tells of how Desdemona fell in love with him, how the only magic he conjured was the tales of his life that he told her. Othello starts his speech to the Duke and senators with a three-part list: “Most potent, grave, and reverend seniors” This introduction to his speech shows Othello’s intelligence. I can see that Othello is a modest character by analysing the following sentence within his first reply to the accusations: ..

. Rude am I in my speech And little blessed with the soft phrase of peace, For since these arms of mine had seven years’ pith” Othello is not rude in his speech but says it anyway, which expresses his modesty to the audience. Alliteration is also comprised within this sentence because of the repetition of the ‘s’ sound.The use of sibilance also gives the audience a soft and peaceful feeling when they hear it.

Othello also echoes Brabantio’s words, which shows he has listened to everything that he’s been accused of and made mental notes, in order to prove Brabantio wrong: “… hat drugs, what charms, What conjuration and what mighty magic” Another technique Othello uses, which reassures the audience that he is a knowledgeable man is Othello’s use of iambic pentameters throughout his speech.

Shakespeare has made Othello’s speech calm, poetic, respectful and patient to portray Othello’s personality. In his speech the audience find out a lot about Othello’s life. What the audience learn about Othello’s life is that he was ‘taken by the insolent foe’ and sold into the slave trade in his ‘boyish days’, he escape and was a soldier for “seven years” and “nine moons. His pursuit as a soldier conducted him to many “battles and sieges”.

Brabantio fascinated by them use to invite Othello to hear the adventures he had been involved in. The importance of recounting Othello’s life to the audience and the rest of the play is that it tells them how his skills and experience are indispensable hence his role in capturing Cyprus is crucial. Desdemona “loved” Othello for his stories of his life and the “dangers” he “had passed” and in return Othello “loved her that she pity them”. In his travels Othello also met ‘cannibals’ and ‘Anthropophagi’.

Desdemona is brought in to authenticate this.When Brabantio says the Desdomona ‘feared to look on’ Othello, Othello may feel, angry and unaccepted in this society because of his skin colour. This implies that a black person in the eye’s of Brabantio cannot be loved by a white women, hence implying that Desdomona’s love for Othello is surreal. Brabantio goes onto say, that their relationship is ‘against the rules of nature’, which supports the stereotypical racism of the time.

This shows Brabantio’s racism and also demonstrates one of the key themes of racism in the play. Brabantio continues with his insults and says to trap Desdomona Othello used ‘mixtures powerful o’er the blood’.He is articulating that Othello could not win Desdomona therefore used witchcraft to ensnare Desdomona. Othello does not react like we would expect someone to when being abused so blatantly.

He keeps calm and asks for Desdomona. It is frightening to think that this stereotypical view of Black people still exists today, nearly 400 years after the play was written. Some people still have a particular view about black people having a connection with witchcraft, black magic, drugs and thieving and overall crime. When Iago goes to get Desdomona the audience would feel tense, because Iago has promised to bring down Othello.

Up to this point of the play, we know that Othello’s character is someone who is good with words. He is also a trusting character. An example of this would be the trust he has in Desdemona when he is willing to loose his life depending on what Desdemona has to say. For the first time in the play Shakespeare presents to the audience the Character of Desdemona.

The audience anticipate by the arrival of Desdemona, they are excited as to how she will act. Shakespeare shows that Desdemona is a very loving person.When Desdomona arrives Brabantio asks her: “Where most you owe obedience? She says that her duty is ‘divided’ because it is to her father and her husband, Othello. She then adds: “My life and education both do learn me How to respect you.

You are lord of all my duty” We see Desdemona say that she is “bound for life and education” to her father, despite this she chooses her “husband” over her “noble father,”: which is why she goes onto say: “… But here’s my husband; And so much duty as my mother showed To you, preferring you before her father.

” This means that she chooses Othello in the same way her mother had chosen Brabantio over her father.Her loyalty is now to Othello. Shakespeare shows us that her action is not so wrong, Brabantio’s wife chose him before her father, in return Desdemona chose her husband before her father, he should be more understanding as why Desdemona committed her actions. In other words he is a hypocrite as he cannot see his daughter do such a deed as he has done himself.

However he may not be angered by his daughter marrying in secret, but marrying a “moor,” (Brabantio was first fascinated by Othello and his background until Othello became too interested in his daughter).The audience are shown that Desdemona loves her “husband” very dearly ” That I did love the moor. ” She is not just affectionate to Othello but loyal as well, as when Othello is sent to Cyprus she asks to “go with him. ” Desdemona’s loving and loyalty is seen right to the end, she refuses to tell Emilia that Othello killed her since she does not want her love to suffer even when he killed her.

Shakespeare shows the audience how people who should love Desdemona and trust her the most continuously distrust her. First we see her father refusing to believe that his daughter could love a “moor” without him using magic.Towards the end we see Othello ignore her pleas of innocence of her having an affair. In this part Desdomona is in front of the Duke, respected senators and her father to declares her love for Othello and with this Brabantio disavows Desdemona.

This demonstrates that Desdomona is very brave, confidant, strong and also independent, despite her father’s attempts to control her. This supports another theme that, the role of women in the 17th century. Previously when Brabantio says: ” Ay to me She is abuse’d, stol’n from me, and Corrupted”Brabantio is making it sound as though something he owns has been stolen from him and that he is not talking about another human being, that is, his daughter. This supports the stereotypical view of women that still exists for some men to this current day, that is that women are the property of their father and they should marry who their father wants and stay in the home doing housework.

However after Desdomona makes her speech Brabantio knows that he cannot control her and says to everybody and especially Othello: “Come hither, Moor: I here do give thee that with all my heartWhich, but thou hast already, with all my heart I would keep from thee. For your sake, jewel, I am glad at soul I have no other child, For thy escape would teach me tyranny. ‘ In this he is tells Othello to come to him so that he could give Othello what he has already, Desdomona. He goes onto saying that he is glad he does not have any other children because then he doesn’t have to put up with this again.

The scene continues with the Duke and Brabantio, making speeches. Both of their speeches contain rhyming couplets. Nevertheless the Duke’s final speech is the most important.The tone of the speech changes from rhyming couplets to prose, which is an indication of the subject changing.

The Duke makes it clear that he has confidence in Othello, which is contradictory to the ending. Othello is used to maintain power in Cyprus at first but when this is done the Duke hands the charge over to Cassio. The only reasonable explanation as to why the Duke used Othello, despite his respect for him, is because him like the rest of the characters, he is racist. The Dukes last speeches for the day is: “You must hence tonight” ” At nine i’the morning” This is another clue that it is night time.

Shakespeare’s plays were performed on stage during the day, so the only way the audience knew whether it was during the day or night is by saying it in a speech or placing objects like candle and lanterns. These two statements also notify the audience that the next scene is going to be in Cyprus and night time will change to daytime. Just as the Duke is about to exit from the ‘courtroom’ the Duke says to Brabantio: “Your son-in-law is far more fair than black. ” This clarifies the Dukes racism previously mentioned because he is saying that Othello is more like white people than black people.

This scene seems much like a court room because it is almost as if Brabantio is the lawyer putting his argument to the Duke, who is like a Judge. Othello is the defendant protecting himself against the allegations made. They are also calling up witnesses, as you would do in a courtroom in order to justify their points. In this case the evidence supplied to the judge is by Desdemona.

She is called up and make her speech, while in a way being interrogated by Brabantio her father. Brabantio turns round to Othello and says: “Look to her, Moor, if thou hast yes to see: She has deceived her father and may deceive thee. Brabantio is saying that Desdomona deceived her own father and therefore may deceive him, Othello. This was to put doubts into Othello’s mind but Othello still says: “My life upon her faith! ” This shows that Othello trusts Desdemona, which completely changes when Iago puts lies into Othello’s head.

During the play the audience see that Othello is frequently referred by racial comments like “thick lips” and “sooty bosom. ” We even see the Duke making racist suggestions like “is far more fair than black. ” Not only the Duke, we see the love of Othello, Desdemona, use such language by calling Othello a “moor. What the audience might question is that, with all this racism going around doesn’t Othello notice what is happening or is he concealing his awareness of racism? The answer to this maybe he is very aware of this racist society that’s why he is very authoritative and controlling to suppress his feelings about racism and inability to cope with the truth.

The audience see that the suppression of Othello’s awareness of racism is important to the rest of the play because later in the play we see Othello being not that commanding. Is it because the racism was getting to him, his denial was backfiring?Ultimately did it lead to him killing Desdemona? The Duke advises Brabantio better to accept the truth than change nothing. Othello is ordered by the Duke to go to Cyprus; in addition Othello asks for Desdemona is to be with him on his journey, alongside with “honest” Iago. Shakespeare uses this scene as a device to send everyone off to Cyprus; Cyprus has been described as a “crucible;” cauldron where chemical impurities are heated and only pure elements are left afterwards.

The characters are the substance’s which are lit and heated up by the flame, Iago (Iago is the Devil incarnate.He does not do anything mystical but whispers to peoples mind and tells lies, similarly just like the devil. Iago, himself is pure evil, that’s why his insinuation are so powerful. It is people’s own morality that leads them to think and believe to what is injected in their minds.

) Shakespeare is sending everyone to Cyprus as a test to find themselves, to see whose faith is strong and who remains righteous and does not be led astray and be doomed to perish. “I am hitherto your daughter. But here’s my husband;” In stating this she vindicates her action, she says, My mother showed to you, preferring you before her father,” Shakespeare’s Iago is one of Shakespeare’s most complex villains.At first glance Iago is pure evil.

During the play Iago uses carefully thought out words and actions which enable him to manipulate others and do things in a way which benefit him and move him closer to his goals. Iago is the main character in this play and directs the actions which push Othello and everyone else towards their tragic end. As you can see Iago is an ordinary villain. Iago wants to seek revenge on Othello because he wanted to become a lieutenant but Cassio is promoted instead.

Iago tells Roderigo that he should be lieutenant because he accomplished more than Cassio. Iago uses the word “the moor” and “I hate the moor” replacing Othello’s name, which show his hatred and racism. The role he plays is in a way is unique and complex. He is smart which is more than we expect; he is an expert judge and knows people very well and uses this as an advantage.

For example he knows that Roderigo is in love with Desdemona and knows that he would do anything to have her. Iago says to Roderigo “thus do I ever make my fool my purse” by playing with his hopes he is able to swindle money and jewels from him.Iago is a quick thinker, for example when Cassio takes hold of Desdemona’s hand just before the arrival of Othello, Iago says, “with a little a web as this will ensure as great a fly as Cassio”. His cunning make him a truly dastardly villain.

Thoughout the play Iago is called “honest Iago”. At one point in the play he even says this himself “I am a honest man”. Iago is a master of deceiving, during the play people rarely stop to consider the possibility that Iago is deceiving or manipulating them. But from the start he makes a fool out of Roderigo and takes advantage of him.

Roderigo remarks “that thou Iago, who hast my purse as if the string were thine”. From the beginning of page 43, Iago’s cruelty is shown when he says that he’ll ‘drown cats and blind puppies’. During the course of this page Iago mentions the word ‘money’ about 11 times in order to get the idea into Roderigo’s head. He also reassures Roderigo that Desdemona does not love Othello and that she is using Othello’s body for sex and after a while she will get bored and come to Roderigo.





.. when she is sated with his body she Will find the error of her choice”Roderigo, like the fool Iago made him, is convinced by Iago’s explanation and decides to ‘sell all my land’. This is an example of Iago’s deceptiveness because later on the play Iago takes Roderigo to Cyprus and kills him.

Iago even says this in the beginning of his soliloquy: “My fool my purse” The speech consists of iambic pentameters, which shows his intelligence of honest Iago. “Thus do I ever make my fool my purse, For I mine own gained knowledge should profane.. ” In this scene Shakespeare reveals the true intentions of Iago, Shakespeare shows us the true villain.

It is in Act 1 scene 3, where Iago devises his wicked plan.Here we can see the mind of Iago. It is clear that he is driven by his motivation of jealousy; jealousy that Othello overlooks him and makes Cassio lieutenant instead of him, jealousy that Othello may have slept with his wife, “twixt my sheets He has done my office. ” It may be Iago is not that greatly concerned at his wife being unfaithful but the thought of her being with Othello disgusts him.

We learn that Iago is a hypocrite. While he is with Othello he is supporting him meanwhile behind his back he is plotting against him. In this speech Iago firstly says what he wants, that is, getting ‘his place’ which refers to Cassio’s position.We know that he is coming up with a plan because he says “How? How? Let’s see” because when someone is thinking up a plan they instinctively start questioning themselves and thinking aloud.

If I were to be the director and asked how should Iago act when saying this I would suggest that he be walking around the stage with one hand behind him and the other tapping his head. He should also frown with his eyebrows to give the impression that he is thinking of something extraordinarily evil. He should take his time when saying the speech and pause after saying every couple of words making sure that he has emphasised ‘his place’ and ‘How?How? Let me see’. In my opinion even though Iago admits that Cassio is a “proper man” and that “The moor is of a free and open nature”, I think that Iago has set out to destroy them because that they have more status than him and it almost sounds as though Iago in fact is jealous of them.

The fact that even though Othello is black he has managed to get a beautiful wife and a high position may be what Iago desires. Iago knows Othello’s weakness and tells it to the audience because it is a major factor in the success of his plan. “The Moor is of a free and open nature, That thinks men honest that but seem to be so,”Othello thinks that all men are honest and therefore he will believe Iago because Iago has convinced Othello of his loyalty. Iago’s final two lines are the most evil and dastardly of his sentences so far: ” Hell and night Must bring this monstrous birth top the world’s light” Iago ends with rhyming couplets to emphasize to the audience that he is going to do what he has just planned.

This is why the audience may be excited because they want to see whether it works or not. I feel that the end is very dramatic and final. It makes me hate and fear Iago even more because he has just planned to bring down two good, innocent and respected people.But I do admire his humour and cleverness because he is attempting to do something to benefit himself.

Shakespeare explores several other themes in Othello; we see how he portrays the roles of woman. Shakespeare shows the audience how woman are seen as possession’s, when Brabantio talks of his daughter being “stol’n” and the imagery of his daughter as his “jewel,” it shows the audience how they are classified as belongings of one in which they need to protect it (the harm which comes to Brabantio’s possession is Othello). Another theme, is racism and prejudice.Shakespeare shows the audience how racist the Venetian society is, they defined black people by “moor” and saw them as inferior species.

Shakespeare challenges prejudice of black people by making a “moor” a Venetian general. This adds more drama as it is a new concept which the audience are unfamiliar with. The themes of good and evil are looked upon in Othello. Shakespeare uses Evil (Iago) to test those who have faith (Desdemona) the contrast of good and evil outshine each other as evil seems more dominant hence it causes more mayhem as seen in the play.

What is so intriguing is that the issues raised are still relevant today in society; the racism, which we claim we are combating, is ever growing, when have we seen a western country have a black man as its prime minister? The roles of woman are still seen as possession as it is evident in the cultures of Asian society as men are seem more superior to women therefore they control them (own them). Evil still exists with us murders, war are a cause of evil, evil doings by the action of others.At the time of Shakespeare, the experience of theatre was hugely different to modern theatres. One obvious difference is the usage of props and special effects.

Shakespearean theatre used fewer. The audience at that time were quite restless at times so Shakespeare gradually opened the scene by stating the situation to get the audience attention then went slowly to the heart of the scene, when the attention of the audience is at full.This technique is seen in Othello when at the beginning of act 1 scene 3 Shakespeare tells the audience of the political situation then goes to the invasion of “Turks” the early part of the scene tells the audience what serious situation it is, it also prepares them to the importance of Othello to the play. The few props and effects meant that the actors had to tell the audience or show them if they were, for example in a church they would need to act as though they were praying as well as speak to the audience to show they are in a church.

The setting of Othello of the senate around a table showed the audience they were in council also the indication of the candles “light” told the audience it was night time. Shakespeare also used stage direction embedded in text in his plays. Shakespearean theatre were done out in the open so it was important for the audience to know the whereabouts of characters so the embedding of stage direction in the script help the audience to understand better. If a Shakespearean theatre was to be put up, it would be quite exciting as to experience why Shakespearean plays were so popular at that period even so why it is a success nowadays?It may be the direction of the play were so exquisitely done it seemed something more different than the usual, that’s why people went there to transfer themselves to a place far from everyday experience, as to its popularity nowadays it may be the language used is so rich one wonders at such beautiful language also its relevance from three hundred years to now how society hasn’t changed.

What would black and North African visitors to London mean to the Elizabethan? People would be mesmerise as they were not that used to those other than white. Othello was an object of interest and fascination.Even Brabantio was amazed by Othello and his life. As Black people were unfamiliar, people were prejudiced against them.

They were referred as lower class of people, however Shakespeare challenges this prejudice to the Elizabethan audience by making Othello, a “moor” a person of high status. In Elizabethan times Venice was a place of loose morals, where the balance of natural order was unstable, there was prostitution, murder, rape etc. This place was put to more stress, with the arrival of a being, who does not fit with this society because of his colour.What this conception adds to the Elizabethan is that “moors” are not part of society as they break the natural order (some may say Shakespeare to some extent was racist).

Venice can be in now society seen as the western world, where it is claiming to have democracy but in actual truth it is disintegrating and full of corruption “loose morals. ” In conclusion the play “Othello” is dramatically effective for the Elizabethan audience because the Elizabethan would not associate a black man as a “hero”, but with the personification of black people as evil and witchcraft which they commonly portrayed as.Othello is also effective on modern day audience’s as the relevance of the play are still important nowadays hence “Othello” is a dramatic success both in the past and present audiences. Is Othello to be blamed for his own fate? It may be Othello is not to be blamed, as he was a black man living in a white society, it was society which drove him to the wrong path, it was society who made him distinctively be seen different by racial comments, it was society which did not accept him as to be a part of its society.

Society did not let “Othello” live it ripped him apart and ultimately killed him. We can also examine “Othello” as a tragic hero. A tragic hero has a high status in society; he has a flaw, which inevitably kills him. Othello was a Venetian general; his tragic flaw would be jealousy, jealousy of his wife, which he suspects, with the insight of Iago that she is having an affair.

In this scene Shakespeare shows the theme of jealousy. We see Shakespeare show the jealousy of Iago envying Cassio.We also see how Othello is make easy of mistrust of Desdemona, fundamentally which does happen, the scene shows Othello’s inadequacy and insecurity. What Shakespeare shows us is how people function in society, in this society Shakespeare shows the effect of racism and how racist a society can be and the results of its action.

We see Othello towards the end of act 1 scene 3 say to Brabantio ” My life upon her faith,” ironic as he claims he will give his life if Desdemona deceives him vice versa at the end when he believes Desdemona being unfaithful Othello kills her.Thus inevitably he dies because of his own actions. In Act 1, Scene 3 we learn a lot about Othello’s life because he explains how he was sold into the slave trade that in turn lead him to many of his adventures. All resulted to Desdemona falling in love with him.

From Act 1, scene 3 the story is moved to Cyprus because of the battle against the Turkish in which Othello has been chosen to be general by the Duke. This was however a veil to cover the fact that Othello was being used. Soon as they are victorious the power is handed over to Cassio a white ex-lieutenant.The racism of the time is very evident in this play.

Othello is called ‘the moor’ through out, something, which Othello does not react to indicating that this racist word must have been common. When Iago tells his plans to the audience the audience is naturally curious on how he is going to achieve this. However, his plan is the dramatic irony in the whole play. So Act 1, Scene 3 in a very important scene to the play because it consists of many issues which have a greater effect to future scenes with in the play!

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Othello: The Dramatic Impact Of Act 1 Scene 3 And Its Importance To The Play As A Whole Analysis. (2017, Oct 30). Retrieved from


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