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Critically comment on Shakepeare's presentation of the outsider in the first two acts...

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bookenghua | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted May 6, 2012 at 8:58 PM via web

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Critically comment on Shakepeare's presentation of the outsider in the first two acts of Othello.

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 6, 2012 at 9:57 PM (Answer #1)

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I think that the question is asking how the concept of the "outsider" is shown in the first two acts.  Essentially, this becomes one of the largest concepts in the drama and it makes sense to study it from its initial stages.  In the first scene, Iago is the outsider.  He reveals his anger to Roderigo as to why he hates Othello.  The promotion of Cassio is where Iago feels as if he is an outsider, discarded by his lesser rank and by Othello, himself.  It is from this point, what Roderigo would call the holding of Othello through "thy hate," where the outsider begins to become evident.  Iago carves out his own identity throughout the drama from this point.  The dramatic presentation of Iago as the outsider who wishes to relegate Othello to the outsider status, as well, is evident in how he he casts Othello both in language and action.  The use of racial terms like "the black ewe" in this scene is done in order to arouse the anger of Brabantio and to also make clear that Iago will use the issue of Othello's race as a way to make him an outsider, as well.  This becomes evident in the second scene, when Brabantio casts Othello as a "thief" and claims that he has used "foul charms" and refers to Othello's "sooty chest" as examples of racial identity as an element that defines the outsider status.  The dramatic presentation of the outsider is shown to be both something that an individual resists, and also something that individuals use to marginalize others.  It is in this element where the theme becomes developed as both statement and response, something that individuals fight against and use to fight in their own machinations for control and power.  Shakespeare illuminates it early as it will become a part of the narrative throughout the drama.

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