The beginning of Act One gives us an introduction to the politics and worldly issues of the play. The beginning of Act Two, we are in Cyprus. The weather and the characters are in turmoil. There is a theme of tension and anxiety running throughout the first scene. The parallels between the macrocosm (nature) and the microcosm (the characters) are shown from the beginning. The changed situation is from the previously political concerns now becoming domestic. The macrocosm of the outer world has been removed from focus.
God has ‘sorted out’ the political scene so we are now primarily concerned with the microcosm. That is Othello, his wife and the surrounding characters. Some of the themes that are initially presented in Act One reappear throughout Act Two also. Shakespeare links these themes throughout the play, and uses them to build up a bigger picture of each character. This is especially obvious with the theme of deceit, which is largely linked to the character of Iago. Iago’s initial presence in act one showed much irony. He was often described with a pre-fix of honest, referred to as honest or noble Iago.
He appears to be the one character who all of the other characters trust; (“As I am an honest man. “) However in the development of the play we begin to see how sly and deceitful Iago really is. He is always plotting and scheming to find out as much as he could about the other characters, primarily Othello, Cassio, and Desdemona who are always his main concern. Iago subtly enquires after all of the characters whereabouts and plans, he also aims to avoid implication at all times, and never wants anyone to suspect him of being anything but honest.
In Act Two, Iago directly lied to Roderigo, by telling him, “Desdemona is directly in love with him! (Cassio) The theme of betrayal also extends into act two. In act one, Brabantio felt betrayed by his daughter. The theme of misplaced trust links with betrayal also. This is shown continually throughout Act Two. The character betraying the others most in the play is Iago. This is ironic because he is also the most trusted character. Othello should trust Cassio, Desdemona and Emilia, but misplaces his trust in Iago and so is lead into believing that his wife is an adulteress.
The theme of jealousy also continues through Act Two. The sub plot involves Bianca being jealous of Cassio since she believes she is having an affair with another woman. This is a source amusement for the audience because Bianca is a prostitute, the last thing she should do is fall in love with a customer! Iago is the main character involved with forwarding the plot. He is responsible for change in the characters emotions, i. e. Othello’s rage from calm, Cassio’s upset from a proud serving officer, and Roderigo’s doubt which leads to submission to Iago, paying him and believing his promises.
Iago shows control and exploit over the other characters. He is able to check the details of other characters plans subtly but with precision. An example of this is when in conversation with Cassio. Cassio’s inability to hold his alcohol has lead him to risk the loss of his job, and the loss of his reputation. Iago abuses this misfortune to forward his planning – “What was he that you followed with your sword? What had he done to you? ” – Iago appears to express concern, yet the reality is concern for his own selfishness and evilness.
Racism is one of the main themes in Act One, for at least one scene, the primary concern of the main characters is the marriage between Desdemona and Othello, which presents rising racist issues from characters such as Brabantio. The theme of racism is prominent in Act One, but is lost in Act Two. However the oscillation of Othello is built upon in Act Two. The characteristic changes from calm composed rational Othello, to raging irrational and violent Othello begin to become noticeable in Act Two. Iago initiates this change in character.
Iagos’ true plans are shown in the quote – Or failing so, yet that I put the Moor, At least into a jealousy so strong, That judgement cannot cure. ” Iago is telling the audience that he will make Othello so angry that his capability to make calm and rationalised judgements will be removed. Iago is an egotist who pretends to be concerned about others whilst secretly ‘feathering his own nest. ‘ Reason and rationality control Iagos instincts, this is why his ability to forward plan seems obvious throughout both Act One and Two. The devilish nature of Iago is also continued from Act One into Act Two.
It is highlighted in the metaphorical terms of light and darkness. “Hell (the devil) and night (linked with evil) must bring this monstrous birth… ” Iago threatens to work with the devil to bring Othello down. Iago doesn’t believe in wholesome love, that is why it is much easier for him to ruin a loving relationship – he appears to have no conscience. Iago also ruins Cassio’s appointment as left tenant. Cassio is sacked and to further the pain to other characters, Iago convinces Cassio that Desdemona is the only one who could help him get his job back.
Iago needs to gain revenge on Othello and this sly cowardly way of convincing Othello his wife is an adulteress is the way Iago chooses to act. Iago also abuses the other characters shortcomings to help himself forward the plan. “She did deceive her father, marrying you, and when she seemed to shake, and fear your looks, she loved them most. ” Iago points out that Desdemona put on a false appearance to her father, and lied about marrying Othello, why shouldn’t she deceive Othello in the same way? All the time whilst Iago is doing this, he is reinforcing the lie- “I humbly do beseech you of your pardon, For too much loving you. I am only telling you this because I love you.
Throughout the first two acts, Shakespeare is concerned with building up a detailed portrayal of the main characters. This is shown with examples of their behaviour and reactions to others. Iago appears to be the main character concerned with linking all of the other characters together, and this is why he is so successful in forwarding the plot. This is how Shakespeare links and builds upon act one, and will continue to do this throughout the next Acts in the play.