Othello Act 1, Scene 1

Act 1, Scene 1



  • "Hast had" = aspirated alliteration. He is out of breath in his frustration.
  • "Sir, sir, sir" - epizeuxis to get Brabantio's attention


  • Iago is the manipulator - knows Roderigo needs assurance of his trust and therefore mimicks Roderigo's usage of expletives; using stronger expletives even than Roderigo: "Sblood!", "Zounds" (Swearing, perhaps blasphemy.)
  • Iago is a character with injured merit. "I know my price, I am worth no worse a place," he says; the plosive reflecting both his overwhelming self-confidence and his disgust with Othello. Yet this same hubris is what he criticises in Othello for rejecting him, despite the "three great ones of the city, off-capped to him". He criticises Othello as "loving his own pride and purposes", the plosive (aspirated alliteration) makes us realise the scorn he holds Othello in and hwo he is frustrated that he, a great soldier as he sees himself, should have to stand down for a "theoric". Iago uses hypophora to show his disgust for Cassio - the question "And what was he?" is a large one, but the answer ("Forsooth, an arithemetician") is insignificant and small. Therefore Iago appears to be inconsistent and hypocritical. Iago's disgust for Cassio is not purely professional, though: "One MIchael Cassio, a Florentine." "One" shows disdain, and Venice and Florence were at war for a large part of Italian history. 
  • Iago needs an audience: the rhetoric Iago uses is far above the "trash of Venice" Roderigo is; therefore saying "And in conclusion", discourse markers, we are engaged and marvel at his rhetorical skill. Inversion of "Nor the division of a battle knows" shows emphasis. Iago is forming a strong argument - his weakness is his emotion - alliteration, hypophora etc display bias on his part ("I hate him as I do hell pains", alliterative)
  • His dry wit, honesty, energy - he doesn't use such a regular iambic pentameter as whining Roderigo - he is energetic and spasmatic 
  • Sardonic humour - "a fellow almost damned in a fair wife" - makes him very attractive as a character; we may disagree with him but nevertheless want to know his fate. 
  • Iago belongs to the group of servants who "keep yet their hearts attending on themselves". His candour in outlining his true character is an aspect drawn from medieval drama. 
  • "I am not what I am." distorts "I am what I am" to clearly align Iago to Satan. Iago is the opposite to God. 
  • Knows where Othello is staying ("Lead to the Sagittary the


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