What dramatic function does the conversation between Montano and the two gentlemen serve?
The scene with the two gentlemen in ‘Othello’ is important because it tells the audience a lot as Montano and the officers weigh up the significance of the latest action. Montano is worrying about Othello’s safe passage and in those days all they could do was to wait for sails over the horizon.The conversation allows us to share in the suspense and it is only through this that we know about the time delay (weeks) and that the ocean is stormy and whipped-up with no sign of their dear leader.
Montano describes how he thinks the weather is worse than usual, adding tension to the action and the conversation prepares the audience for stormy things in the offing in other ways, ( the relationship between Othello and his wife) so acting as a portent. "Methinks the wind hath [has] spoke aloud at land; / A fuller blast [stronger wind] ne'er [never] shook our battlements;" (Line 5).
The other gentleman describes how gales broke up the formation of Turkish ships that were on their way to invade and an Elizabethan audience who were used to being at the mercy of the vagaries of wind and weather for their supplies would have been agog with interest at this and becoming more engaged in the story. When he says that he fears them all "drown'd" he sets the scene for us all to worry that this is what has happened to Othello and also allows us to understand the depth of feeling the men have for their leader.Another gentleman tells everyone that the Turkish fleet cannot prevail and has failed. The men share their worries about Othello’s fate and through this we can share in their respect for him as they believe if anyone has the skill to survive, it will be him as he and his ship are sound and they agree they should not stop looking until they see him. At last they behold Othello’s sail and the scene is set for the next drama - the arrival of Othello’s beautiful wife.