In Othello's Act 2, Scene 2, why does Shakespeare introduce a herald to announce the night's festivities?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act 2, Scene 2 of Othello, Shakespeare certainly could have conveyed the announcement about the night's festivities in another manner.  However, he most likely included the Herald as a practical drama technique.  While the Herald is on stage delivering his lines and providing background information for the next scene, actors who appear next have time to get where they need to be.  Shakespeare did not have scene divisions in his plays (they were added by editors later); so he often includes brief scenes in his plays which feature heralds and messengers alone on the stage delivering segues for future scenes.

What the Herald actually says in Scene 2 is significant.  Not only does he establish that Othello has given everyone in Cyprus permission to party (because of the destruction of the Turkish fleet and because of his nuptials), but he also gives the audience a clear image of Othello's reputation.  He proclaims,

" 'Heaven bless the isle of Cyprus and / our noble general Othello' " (2.2.10-11).

At this point in the play, Othello is welcomed anywhere and highly respected, and this contrasts sharply with his loss of reputation in Acts 4 and 5.