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How Does Shakespeare Present Othello Between Act 1 Scene 1 And Act 2 Scene 3?

1351 words - 6 pages

How does Shakespeare present Othello between Act 1 scene 1 and Act 2 scene 3?
Shakespeare first uses other characters to build up an initial impression of Othello. Frequently referring to him in racist slur in Act 1, Scene 1, Roderigo and Iago refer to him as having “thick-lips” and an “old black ram”, which illustrates that Othello is black. This is interesting because black people at the time were not treated as equals, as these quotes show. However, despite the derogatory nature of these comments which perhaps shows that people do not have respect for him, it does also show that Othello must be a very strong person because we know that he is in a high position in the army as he is able ...view middle of the document...

From this, the reader can infer that Othello is a man of pride and backbone for he is able and willing to stand up for himself; this, therefore, is the first indication of the type of soldier and leader Othello is. The idea of Othello being a strong leader is then reiterated when Brabantio and Roderigo draw swords, as Othello states, “Keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them”. This calming and peaceful nature of Othello truly reflects the respect he has as a leader, for they both listen to Othello and put their swords down. Furthermore, “Were it my cue to fight, I should have known it without a prompter”, is a key section of the piece, for it shows how Othello is able to go from a calm, considered portrayed and highly respected leader, to a strong and aggressive soldier when he feels it correct and right to do so. As a result, it can also be concluded that Othello has very good decision making skills and does not react on impulse, knowing what to do and when. This is a very important aspect in the build up of Othello’s character as a noble, authoritative and self controlled leader.
Despite the highly respected, solid leader side of Othello’s character, the reader is also introduced to a sincere and loving side to his character too. When questioned about his relationship with Desdemona, Othello replies: “I love the gentle Desdemona”. The use of language in this speech, particularly the use of “gentle”, illustrates how much respect Othello has for his wife, and in turn how much love he has for her. Consequently, the reader believes Othello and start to sympathise with him, for they start to understand and appreciate the love he has for his wife, and that he does not rape or steal her.
Shakespeare then starts to introduce Othello’s ability to whole-heartedly trust people; which is perhaps his later downfall. “Let her speak of me before her father”, is Othello asking for Desdemona to speak about their love, putting his life on the line for it: “But let your sentence, even fall upon my life”. This not only portrays Othello’s love for Desdemona, but his trust in her to speak the truth about their relationship. However, this could also be interpreted rather more cynically as Othello may be manipulating the situation, by putting his life in someone else’s hands, knowing that they won’t let him die, and therefore Desdemona will say she loves for her to save his life, because she would feel guilty if she didn’t. Perhaps, therefore, if this is the case, this shows a dark and arrogant side to Othello, as well as one of quick intelligence and bravery.
In Act 2, Scene 1, the reader observes a dramatic change in Othello’s character. From going from a person of considered, polite, calm...

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