How does Shakespeare show conflict and tension-the-in-the first act?

Categories: William Shakespeare

Focus on language, characterisation and dramatic technique. It is suggested that something maybe devious and illegitimate is going on even before anyone speaks with the effect of the setting "Venice at night. A Street," this sets up an unclear atmosphere and draws us to the play. The play also opens in the middle of a conversation so that we do not know what to expect next or what they. Roderigo opens the play with a serious accusation against Iago "who hast had my purse," this tells us that Iago may be a villain and Roderigo also accuses Iago of planning it.

Iago denies this accusation and Roderigo says "hold him in they hate," we assume this means that Iago hates someone which also leads us to believe he may be a devious villain. We see that Iago can manipulate conversations to his own advantage as he is pushed into an awkward situation by Roderigo and he uses conversation to divert his attention.

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Iago mentions the position of lieutenant "make me his lieutenant," so we see greed coming in as we find out that he has not obtained this promotion.

He seems to be quite arrogant "I am worth no worse a place. Iago talks about his officer "a great arithmetician... in a fair wife," this is complementing him, but it also putting him down in the fact he is just a simple `Florentine` as though Venetian people are much better. He mentions how Cassio has a way with the ladies. Iago talks about how it is unfair that Cassio was promoted from a lower rank on the basis he is trusted and his relation is close because he has no experience within a war whereas Iago has plenty.

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Iago refers to Othello as "His Moorship," showing the racial difference between himself and Othello.

Roderigo shows his hate for Othello "By heaven... his hangman," we see jealousy within Roderigo over Othello about Desdemona. We also see jealously within Iago about Cassio's position as lieutenant. Iago finds it unfair that he has worked up the ranks and that Cassio was picked out of friendship "Preferment goes by... heir to th'first," this means that whoever is second in charge has the right of becoming first when they would die. This shows us Iago has a desire for power and feels he has been cheated out of his rightful place.

Shakespeare also shows conflict not only between characters but also between emotions, we see that Roderigo is confused and left vulnerable because of his obsession with Desdemona and jealousy of Othello, Iago also shows his jealousy and arrogance. Iago comes up with the idea to go to Branantio's house who is Desdemona's father. Roderigo tries to talk Brabantio calmly as he doesn't want to seem very aggressive, however Iago does very well in sounding common, he used a more informal dialect, this shows his ability to disguise himself and adapt to his surroundings to his benefit.

Iago tells Branantio he has been robbed "you're robbed for shame," this means that his daughter has been robbed by Othello as though it's a disasterous crime of which Brabantio is the victim. Iago is very crude in his wording to Brabantio "an old black ram is tupping your white ewe," this shows contrast of opposites and is seen as good against evil and the disgrace their sexual relationship has upon the family. The racist view in the start of the play can cause tension, it can be interpreted that Iago's name originates from Santiago/Saint James also known as the Moor Killer.

There is almost a threat made by Iago "the devil will make a grandsire of you," this means if he does'nt awake then he may become a grandfather to a child. Brabantio is already familiar with Roderigo as it seems he has come about the house before to ask for Desdemona and Branantio does not think he is good enough for her "my daughter is not for thee," this gives us the reason of why Roderigo does not like Othello and the idea of Desdemona marrying someone else. Iago talks of people as though they are horses, Othello represents the Barbary horse as they originated from north west of Africa.

Iago uses alliteration to brabantio almost to make it more effective, "nephews neigh/coursers for cousins and jennets for germans. " Iago tells Brabantio again in a more blatent way of what is going on "your daughter and the Moor... beast with two backs," this simple means that they are engaged in sexual intercourse. Brabantion mentions treason "O treason of the blood," this strongly shows how Brabantio feels about Othello and also Desdemona who has deceived him. At the start of scence 2 we are again dropped into the middle of a conversation involving Iago and Othello.

Iago talks very formally to Othello, which again shows how Iago can adapt around different characters. Iago seems very loyal to Othello as he wishes to kill Roderigo "and spoke such scurvy... against tour honour," but as we know this could easily be another act. We do not see Iago take over the speech as Othello himself has a lot to say and does not fear what has happened, that he is wanted by Desdemona's father. "'Tis better as it is," this shows strength, courage and no regret within Othello.

Othello can be seen as arrogant as Iago "my services... out-tongue his complaints. " Othello wants to be found "I must be found," he is almost depicted as Jesus and Iago as Judas, this shows the difference between characters, however we also see they are both strong characters in their different ways. Othello questions Iago of the outcome "My parts, my title... is it they? " Iago responds "By Janus, I think not," this could be interpreted as Iago does not believe Othello will be accepted or it is not Brabantio coming around the corner.

However Iago swears on Janus who is the two faced God, which could almost be seen as Iago's role model, Janus was also the God of gates and doors(beginnings and endings) as we see further on in the play it is Iago who begins and eventually ends his tangled web of jealousy, love and hate. It turns out to be Cassio around the corner and he has new that the Duke wishes to meet with Othello about the War on Cyprus. Cassio wants to know why Iago is with Othello, Iago replies "Faith," meaning faith to his general Othello.

Cassio acts that he does not know of the marriage, although it did appear he was present as Iago spoke about him. Branantio enters with his officer and both sides draw their swords, this causes physical tension between men of war and of politics. Brabantio accuses Othello of trappin Desdemona in magical ways, "she in chains of magic were not bound," this shows us the tension and contrast between two different origins. Brabantio wants Othello to be judged and Othello agrees to this as both Brabantio's and Othello's pride clash with each other.

At the start of scence 3 it opens in a council chamber where opinions are traded, so this is already a good setting for tension and conflict, the senator and duke talk of war which is conflict between two nations. Then Brabantio, Othello, Iago, Roderigo and Cassio enter we see tension and conflict between people which seems to have the same importance as the war. Brabantio pleeds to the duke about his daughter "she is abused... and corrupted," and he blames this upon spells and medicines performed by witchcraft.

The duke is curious of who this is and almost already decides he is guily by Brabantio's word. When the duke discover it was Othello he wants to know his side of the story. Othello speaks very formally to everyone even when he is receiving racial abuse from Brabantio. Othello says that he won the heart of Desdemona and did not use any sort of magic "I won his daughter. " Othello shows us how much he loves and trusts Desdemona as he wants her to come and talk for him that she also had a decision in the marriage and he risks his life on her trust.

Othello argues that Brabantio liked him as company and his stories and had no problems with his race, but now he finds that Othello is not good enough for his daughter. Desdemona is called for "Send for the lady to the Sagittary," and she does show up and Othello's love for her is proved and hers for his and she sticks up for Othello but doesn't abandon her father in respect. Brabantio still argues that it is not right that they are married and Roderigo agrees, however it seems that neither Othello or Desdemona will give in.

Desdemona refers to Othello as the Moor aswell as Brabantio, however this doesn't seem to bother Othello. Brabantio leaves the argument and tells Othello to hear the Duke's news of war. There is tension between Othello and Brabantio obviously because they disagree on the marriage but also with Desdeomona and Brabantio as Desdemona does not want to stay at her fathers and Brabantio does not want Othello to stay, so they have driven each other away.

There is tension and conflict between the Duke and Brabantio, it seems that the Duke is on Othello's side as the senate do need him to fight for them, but he also compliments Othello "far more fair than black" this shows us that the Duke believes Othello is more civilized and has no barbaric blood in him. Overall we see tension and conflict between many of the characters, we could also see conflict within people as their emotions fight each other. These conflicts develop throughout the play and causes more tension between characters and definitely within the characters own feeling.

Updated: Nov 01, 2022
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How does Shakespeare show conflict and tension-the-in-the first act?. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

How does Shakespeare show conflict and tension-the-in-the first act? essay
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