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How does Brabantio’s attitude toward Roderigo change in the course of Act I, Scene I...

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f-ibrahimo | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 21, 2009 at 9:15 PM via web

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How does Brabantio’s attitude toward Roderigo change in the course of Act I, Scene I of Othello?

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robertwilliam | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted February 21, 2009 at 10:44 PM (Answer #1)

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At the start, Brabantio is really not very pleased to be roused from his bed, and even less pleased to see Roderigo. Brabantio asks who is calling to him, and here's what happens:

RODERIGO:
My name is Roderigo.

BRABANTIO:
The worser welcome.
I have charged thee not to haunt about my doors:
In honest plainness thou hast heard me say
My daughter is not for thee...

But, panicking once he realises that Desdemona and Othello have run off together, he eventually starts to rely on Roderigo to advise him and confirm his thoughts and fears:

Are there not charms
By which the property of youth and maidhood
May be abused? Have you not read, Roderigo,
Of some such thing?

And, right at the end, you see the real change. The scene ends with Brabantio saying

Get weapons, ho!
And raise some special officers of night.—
On, good Roderigo,—I'll deserve your pains.

From the "worser welcome" to "good Roderigo". In one scene. There's the change!

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lit24 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted February 21, 2009 at 11:35 PM (Answer #2)

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In Act sc.1 Roderigo and the disgruntled Iago decide to scandalise Othello by sreading a rumour that Desdemona, Brabantio's daugher has eloped with Othello. So they awaken Brabantio from his sleep and tell him that at this very moment Othello "the Moor of Venice" is making love to his fair daughter:

"Even now, now, very now, an old black ram
Is topping your white ewe."

As soon as Brabantio hears this he is furious and refuses to believe them. He is especially angry with Roderigo whom he scornfully dismisses in the following words:

"I have charged thee not to haunt about my doors:
In honest plainness thou hast heard me say
My daughter is not for thee; and now, in madness,
Being full of supper and distempering draughts,
Upon malicious bravery, dost thou come
To start my quiet."

At their insistence he checks whether what they say is true and when he discovers that his daughter Desdemona is indeed missing,  his attitude to Roderigo is completely reversed and he begins to regret the fact that he had formerly rejected his offer to marry her:

"O, would you had had her!
Some one way, some another."

He then pleads with Roderigo to help him search for and apprehend his daughter. Roderigo needless to say readily agrees to do so:

"I think I can discover him, if you please,
To get good guard and go along with me."

Iago and Roderigo have thus successfully exploited Brabantio's racist hatred for blacks to their own advantage.

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