In Othello, what was Iago's complaint in scene 1?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Iago is angry that Othello has passed him over for a promotion, preferring instead Michael Cassio, who is not even from Venice, but from Florence. He has chosen Cassio, a "arithmetician" but not an experienced soldier, despite the fact that Iago had the support of three Venetian nobles, and Iago, charging that Othello has not been fair in his decision, asks rhetorically whether he should have to continue to show loyalty:

Tis the curse of service, 
Preferment goes by letter and affection, 
And not by old gradation, where each second 
Stood heir to the first. Now, sir, be judge yourself 
Whether I in any just term am affined 
To love the Moor.

Iago is complaining to Roderigo, who has been spurned by Desdmona, and the audience discovers that she has eloped with Othello. The two men warn Brabantio that his daughter has married the Moor, with Iago sneering that "even now, now, very now, an old black ram is tupping your white ewe." At this point, the audience sees that Iago hates Othello and will scheme against him, though they cannot begin to fathom how far he will go to get his revenge.


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