In Act 1 Scene 3 of Othello, several important themes are introduced. You’ll see them in the summary below. Check the analysis prepared by our writers as well for more insight.
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💑 Summary of Othello: Act 1 Scene 3
Act 1 Scene 3 opens with the meeting between the Duke of Venice and his senators. It is concerned with news reports about the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. One of the sailors informs the Senate that the Turks turned towards Rhodes. The senators suggest that the Turks will attack Rhodes instead of Cyprus.
Othello and Brabantio enter the room together. The Duke appoints Othello to lead the forces to Cyprus. Yet, Brabantio demands the meeting to be over. He does not want to discuss political affairs when his daughter has been put under spells. He says that Desdemona would never marry the one she married. The Duke promises to prosecute the man responsible for it. Shortly after, he learns that Othello is the one who married Desdemona.
The Duke gives Othello a chance to defend himself in front of the crowd. The general tells everyone about their courtship and asks the Duke to send for Desdemona. He wants his wife to speak for herself. When Othello stops talking, the Duke jokes, “I think this tale would win my daughter too.”
When Desdemona starts arrives, she tells everyone that her education and manners are the results of her father’s work. She thanks Brabantio. However, now that she is married, she is loyal to her husband. As Othello has to go to Cyprus, Desdemona wants to join him too. The Duke grants this permit. He tells Othello to leave immediately to Cyprus, and Iago will accompany Desdemona on a different ship later. Desdemona takes Iago’s wife, Emilia, as her maid.
Brabantio is disappointed with the outcome, and he warns Othello by saying that Desdemona is not the one to be trusted:
done in as little as 3 hours
“She has deceived her father, and may thee.”
Nevertheless, Othello is convinced of Desdemona’s faithfulness.
When Iago and Roderigo are left alone on stage, Iago tries to convince him that everything goes according to his plan. He tells Roderigo to go to Cyprus and wait for Desdemona. He also reminds him to bring a lot of money to pay for the help.
At the end of the act, Iago stays alone on the stage. He says that he has heard the rumor that Emilia cheated on him with Othello. He does not believe it but will pretend that it is accurate to feed his hatred. Iago also plans to take the position of Cassio and break the marriage of Othello and Desdemona.
🎭 Active Characters
Othello, Iago, Roderigo, Brabantio, Duke of Venice, Desdemona
🔥 Active Themes
💕 Analysis of Othello: Act 1 Scene 3
In Act 1 Scene 3, the audience learns about the war, which is a significant literary device. It is a driving force for the plot as it takes Desdemona and Othello away from Venice to Cyprus. Venice represents civil society and norms, while Cyprus is a place of wilderness. That’s why Othello behaves differently in two areas.
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The audience also learns that the Duke has immense respect for Othello. The entire Venice relies on the general’s military expertise. That’s why Othello does not fear to face the Senate and talk of his marriage. He knows he will get their support. Othello’s defense speech has two parts:
- First, he speaks about his professional achievements. Othello was a soldier from the age of seven and until recently when he returned to Venice.
- Then, he elaborates on his love for Desdemona. It was earned by his stories and achievements.
In the beginning, Othello says that he is not good with words:
“Rude am I in my speech
And little blessed with the soft phrase of peace.”
Nevertheless, the audience sees that it is not true. Othello’s speech is vivid, coherent, and full of literary devices. He uses his speech to defend his and Desdemona’s honor.
Othello’s speech is straightforward, and the audience cannot help but believe him. This simplicity of words allows people to see him as an honest man. For instance:
“So justly to your grave ears I’ll present
How I did thrive in this fair lady’s love,
And she in mine.”
Othello also says that Brabantio was inviting him to the house and asking to tell his life story. However, when it comes to Othello marrying Desdemona, his prejudice kicks in. He is convinced that his daughter is incapable of loving someone like the general. He uses his own racial bias and correlates them to Desdemona.
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In Othello’s speech, Desdemona is a young lady who knows what she wants. This description is different from the one given by Brabantio. When Desdemona comes in, it is already clear that Othello won his case. As the Duke says, “I think this tale would win my daughter too.”
Desdemona’s speech is straightforward and concise as well. She delivers it in 10 simple lines. Her behavior is very uncommon for the woman of the 16th century as she is rebellious against her father. Nevertheless, Desdemona is still the product of her time as she wants to belong to a man anyway. She wants to be with Othello wherever he goes. The Duke does not oppose it and orders some trusted soldier to take Desdemona to Cyprus for him. Othello chooses “honest Iago” for this task.
Brabantio is entirely disappointed as he tells Othello:
“Look to her, Moor, have a quick eye to see:
She has deceiv’d her father, may do thee.”
These words do not go unnoticed and create a pending atmosphere of something horrible. It foreshadows Iago’s plan and Othello’s suspicions of Desdemona’s infidelity. However, Othello shows complete trust in his wife as he responds, “my life upon her faith!” From this scene, we understand that Othello and Desdemona’s relationships are based on love and mutual support.
The scene is closed with Iago’s soliloquy in which he introduces some new reasons for hatred. He says that there is a rumor that the Moor “twixt my sheets . . . [has] done my office.” He implies that Emilia cheated on him with Othello. There is no evidence of it, but he wants to believe in it anyway.
In this soliloquy, Iago talks about the next step in his plan. He knows that Othello trusts him, so he will try to convince him that Desdemona has an affair with Cassio. Iago is very optimistic in this scene. It is contrasted with Roderigo’s pessimistic tone and desire to commit suicide. The reason for this contrast is the fact that Iago sees the “bigger picture.” He knows that the first step in his plan is to make Othello trust him.
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