Act One Of Othello Essay Research Paper

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Act One Of Othello Essay, Research Paper What Is Shakespeare s Achievement In Act I Of Othello? Shakespeare s own personal aim was not to write a social and political reflection of his era, as many contemporary readers believe, it was; purely and simply, to entertain his audience. This does not mean that there can be no social and political reflections within Othello, it means that the reflections are there, not for the sake of social and political commentary, but for the sake of entertainment and pleasure. Aristotle explained in Poetics that the audience s pleasure consists not merely in observing the play, but criticizing, evaluating and making comparisons. These activities produce pleasure, thus it is not a mindless pleasure. There must be intellectual and emotional

engagement on the spectator s part. According to Aristotle, to stimulate the intellectual engagement of the audience and thus create this pleasure in the spectator, a masterful piece of art or literature must contain a degree of ambiguity in its ideas. This is the reason for the social commentaries that Shakespeare includes in his work: The play commences with two characters apparently arguing over money. Shakespeare immediately sets the mood of conflict for the remainder of the play, it is important because the reader at the outset is given a choice; who to believe and who is right. Shakespeare instantly sets about creating the mood of ambiguity which will result in the reader contemplating and analyzing the situation in hand. This will, according to Aristotle, create pleasure

for the audience. As with all Shakespeare s plays, Othello is written (for the very vast majority) in a form of verse and with a definite rhythm. This helps the general flow of the text, and when the rhythm is broken, we are alerted to a significant event or to a particular trait in a character. When Iago tries to insult and animalize the Barbary horse Othello, to Brabantio (line 108), verse reverts to prose and we are alerted to the evils behind Iago s deeds. Shakespeare, so far, is strictly adhering to Aristotle s guidelines and certainly understands the essential qualities of art itself . In Poetics it is explained that language into which enter rhythm, harmony and song will create each kind of artistic ornament necessary to imitate an action that is serious, complete and of a

certain magnitude (Aristotle s description of tragedy). In the first verses the audience is presented with a mood of intrigue and confusion, Othello is never referred to by name, but Iago s feelings are perfectly clear. Othello is described by Iago as being pompous and immodest, Iago is only serving Othello to serve [his] turn upon him , this immediately shows the self-serving nature of Iago. We are quickly shown that Iago is bitter and twisted that he has not gained the rank of Othello s lieutenant, thus his estimation of Othello is not fully believed or accredited by the audience. Furthermore Iago goes on to admit to his own deceptive nature by explaining he is not what he seems to be, he explains I am not what I am . In the first scene Iago launches into a speech of how he

despises knee-crooking knave who serves his master for nothing but provender (bed and board). He then explains how he admires the servant who wears a visage of duty while serving no one but himself. These servants have lined their coats and then when they have used their master for money they Do themselves homage . Iago, once more, confesses to being one of these self serving and deceptive men. By showing Iago s true colours, Shakespeare is casting Iago s view of Othello in a very low estimation. Shakespeare s initial portrayal of Roderigo, is of a rather dim and na ve man. Firstly, he has paid a clearly dishonest self serving man, Iago, to promote a match between him and Desdemona, to her father, Brabantio. Secondly, nearly all Roderigo s conversation consists of subservient