The play opens with two characters in mid-conversation, shrouded in darkness, in the middle of the night. They are out in the streets of Venice talking about a betrayal of trust between them. This immediately grabs the audience’s attention and sets the theme for the rest of the play. The characters involved are Iago and Roderigo and this argument lets us know straight away that they are untrustworthy and we should expect to see more of this during the play.
Roderigo is complaining to Iago about his behaviour after Roderigo has given him money. We do not know why he has given him money at this point which makes the audience want to find out more. One of the lines in the beginning of this scene is “Thou toldst me thou did hold him in hate” We do not know that it is Othello they are discussing at this point.Iago begins to tell Roderigo of his hatred for the Moor (Othello). He has been passed over for promotion and feels betrayed and let down.
Othello has given the job of Lieutenant to a Florentine (Michael Cassio) and has given Iago the lesser position of Ancient. Roderigo is infatuated with the beautiful Desdemona and is madly jealous after learning that Othello is secretly marrying Desdemona. Iago is full of spite and jealousy because he has lost the promotion to Cassio who he does not feel is up to the job.
Iago describes him as a “bookish theoric” who knows nothing about battle. As Iago is an experienced soldier who has fought beside Othello on many occasions we can understand Iago’s disappointment.Then, Iago goes on to make a speech that tells us a lot about his character and what we to expect during the rest of the play. In this monologue Iago reveals his cruel intentions towards Othello and tells Roderigo how he will betray him. Iago declares his hatred in such a way that lets the audience know his true character.
For example, “In following him, I follow but myself”, and “I am not what I am.” This means that right at the beginning of the play the audience is well aware of his intentions towards other characters. So when we see scenes during the play it creates a sense of dramatic irony because the audience knows too well what Iago’s plan is and what is really going on.Iago’s first act of falseness is committed straight away…Brabantio saying, “Call up her father, rouse him, make after him, poison his delight.” Iago and Roderigo go to Brabantio’s house shouting obscenities, hidden by darkness.
Brabantio comes out to see what the matter is and is greeted by more shouting. Iago tells Brabantio that his daughter (Desdemona) is secretly marrying the Moor (Othello.)Iago uses vulgar language of a sexual nature to provoke Brabantio and make him as angry as possible at Othello. “An old black ram Is tupping your white ewe,” and “they are making the beast with two backs” are just two of the vulgar, sexually orientated remarks Iago makes. Straight away Brabantio, rushes to Desdemona’s room and when finding she is not there threatens to kill Othello. He gathers his men and heads for the Senate.
Iago disappears into the darkness to take his place by Othello’s side.In this scene Iago professes his hatred for Othello and Cassio. He openly talks about the truth of his own character, admitting that he lies and deceives people in order to get his own way. Roderigo is stupid enough not to realize that that is exactly what Iago is doing to him.
Roderigo doesn’t seem to be aware that he is being used and is just as much a part of Iago’s sordid plan as the other characters in the play.This scene takes place at night, which sets the atmosphere for the rest of the play of mystery, danger and betrayal. Many of the key scenes take place in darkness continuing the theme of gloom and concealment of evil deeds. Deception, manipulation and betrayalShakespeare cleverly opens the play with a very negative picture painted by three characters that have more than enough reasons to be biased in their opinions.Iago is jealous of Cassio and angry at Othello because he has lost out on a promotion that he feels he deserves, Roderigo is jealous because he loves Desdemona and she has married Othello and Brabantio is persuaded that Othello has stolen his daughter away from him by wicked magic and has taken advantage of her.