“Othello” Act 1 Summary Response
- Topic sentence: title, author, strong verb, main idea
- “Othello” Act 1, written by William Shakespeare, demonstrates how many “masks” people can wear to disguise themselves.
- Supporting ideas to prove main idea
- Throughout Act 1 of “Othello”, Iago demonstrates his various “masks” by secretly changing his allegiance to the other characters in the play. From encouraging Roderigo to accompany him to rouse Brabanzio about Desdemona’s marriage to Othello to his warning of Othello of Brabanzio’s soldiers out to capture him, Iago wears different “masks” depending on who he is with at the time.
- Explanation of ideas
- Iago made Roderigo and Othello both believe that he was their friend but in reality, he hates Othello and is using Roderigo. All Roderigo is to Iago is a pawn in his plan to take revenge on Othello. When Iago is around both Othello and Roderigo, he puts on a different “mask” to hide his real intentions. Iago does this convincingly enough that Roderigo and Othello don’t seem to suspect that they are being played at all.
- Concluding sentence: restate main idea
- William Shakespeare clearly portrays the use of “masks” in Act 1 of “Othello” by devising a character who deceives and cheats to get what he wants.
- Topic sentence: title, author, strong verb, agree/disagree (correctly portrays/ incorrectly portrays), because ___________ and ______________
- “Othello” Act 1, written by William Shakespeare, correctly portrays the many “masks” people wear to hide their true selves and motives because Iago is extremely deceptive and manipulates Roderigo and Othello.
- Claim 1 Iago is a character filled with jealousy and motivated to seek revenge.
- Set-up: Through Act 1 of “Othello”, Shakespeare acknowledges the “masks” people wear through Iago, a jealous character in the play who is seeking revenge. Iago is convinced that he deserves to be Othello’s lieutenant and will trick people to take revenge on Othello. Iago is also aware of the rumor that Iago has slept with his wife so he is extremely motivated to seek revenge on Othello.
- Evidence: Iago reveals his plan for revenge when he states, “...and it is thought abroad that ‘twixt my sheets he has done my office. I know not if’t be true, but I, for mere suspicion in that kind, will do as if for surety.” (Shakespeare 1.3 430-433) However, when Iago is around Othello, he treats him like his superior.
- Explanation: To be able to take revenge Iago needs to be trusted by Othello and needs a “mask” to hide his true intentions. Iago has a strong desire to seek revenge against Othello even though he does not know for sure if the rumor of his wife’s unfaithfulness with Othello is true. However, even without firm evidence, Iago believes he is justified in seeking revenge.
- Counterclaim 1: However, ....even though many people are deceptive, they don’t wear their “masks” every moment.
- Set-up: People can show their true selves in the right circumstances. It takes a lot of energy to be lying all the time. People who are deceptive sometimes like to brag about it, as we see Iago do in Act 1.
- Evidence: At the end of Act 1, Iago says, “To get his place and to plume up my will In double knavery--How, how? Let's see: After some time, to abuse Othello's ear that he is too familiar with his wife. He hath a person and a smooth dispose to be suspected, framed to make women false. The Moor is of a free and open nature, that thinks men honest that but seem to be so, and will as tenderly be led by the nose as asses are” (Shakespeare 1.3 436-445)
- Explanation: In this case, Iago shows his true self to the audience of Othello. He admits he is going to use Cassio to hurt Othello. Iago is going to insinuate that Cassio is too intimate with Othello’s wife in hopes of getting Othello suspicious of Cassio.
- What are the strengths/ flaws of this argument?
- At first glance, it may seem that people show their true intentions to everyone. This seems reasonable because Iago does show his jealousy to the reader, but not most of the characters he is interacting with in the play. While this view seems plausible initially, the vast majority of Iago’s actions towards the other characters are deceptive. Iago says he hates Othello but only says that when he is not around Othello. He also mentions that he is using Roderigo to take revenge on Othello, but only when Roderigo is not around. Iago is hiding behind his deceptive “mask” as he continues with his plot to destroy Othello.
- Concluding sentence: restate main idea
- Act 1 of Shakespeare’s “Othello” portrays a scheming Iago as he seeks revenge against Othello which demonstrates how people construct “masks” to hide their true intentions.