In Act 1 Scene 1 of Othello, what are Roderigo's and Iago's feelings toward Othello? 

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Othello is the tragic story of how miscommunication changes lives. The audience is introduced to Othello through the words of Iago and Roderigo in Act I, scene i with Othello only making his entrance in scene ii. It is possible, and apparently purposeful on Shakespeare's part, that if Iago is to be believed, Othello is  a person who "loving his own pride and purposes" (12) has made an inappropriate choice for his lieutenant, and unfairly passed over the most-deserving candidate (who is of course Iago) from "whom his eyes had seen the proof" (28). The audience is even possibly inclined to feel the same way as Iago, and this is encouraged by Roderigo's part as he too feels that Iago is justified to "hold him (Othello) in thy hate" (7). Roderigo is so enraged by Othello's apparent poor choices and is already falling into Iago's trap. He too would despise Othello if his reward for success in battle was to be nothing more than to be Othello's "ancient" (33). 

Iago admits that he will take the first opportunity "to serve my turn upon him" (42). Iago also knows that Roderigo has his own reasons for disliking Othello and that Roderigo relishes any chance to get closer to Desdemona. He acts and speaks before he thinks and Iago intends to make use of this characteristic to further his own aims. Roderigo knows that Brabantio (Desdemona's father) has turned him away before, for being unsuitable for Desdemona, but he is so inspired by Iago's talk of revenge against Othello, that he demeans himself, "a knave of common hire" (126) so that he can reveal Othello as even worse- "a lascivious Moor" (127) and so help Iago destroy Othello's reputation and standing, such is the level of his self-absorption. He does not realize that his words do not make him a better candidate for Desdemona's attentions. It becomes obvious, therefore that both men despise Othello for their circumstances rather than looking at their own shortcomings.