The secret of Shakespeares plays lies in their profound insights related to the most unconceivable sides of the human soul, the complex nature of the mind, emotionality, sensuality, and spirituality. Different, contradicting feelings and behaviors, drives and impulses are often intertwined in one and the same person, who has both noble features and shameful weaknesses. The play Othello is a powerful example of Shakespeares mastery of penetration into the depth of the controversial human nature. In all times, in all places, people are torn by conflicting sensations and drives, by sins and virtues that simultaneously reside within suffering psyches. The world of the Othello play has precious ideas and concepts to propose to everyone; it draws the pictures of cruel villains and frank, sincere, and chaste souls.
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In the first act of the play, the author at once presents the theme of envy and jealousy that makes a person the most horrible and cruel villain who is ready to take advantage of the sincere friendship and manipulate the best of feelings. In particular, Iago, the embodiment of evil and ill will, envies both Othello and Cassio, who was assigned the lieutenant by the Moor. He hates Othello and decides to apply all his powers of brain and reason for the wicked purposes. Shakespeare shows how one manipulator can influence many noble and decent souls at once and use them for his own villainous goals. Although both Brabantio and Othello are respected men in their society and have been friends with each other, Iago manages to present the love of the Moor with Desdemona in such a way that Father rejects the daughter and hates the noble warrior. Iagos design is to plague peoples happiness and joy with flies, throw such changes of vexation, and spoil their lives and destinies (Shakespeare 6). All in all, Shakespeare accurately noticed how envious villains could use their brains for the vicious purposes and produce the irreversible impact on the noble and honest but gullible individuals.
The topic of hypocrisy is also raised in the first act on the example of Iago. The devil acknowledges that I am not what I am (6) and expresses his malicious intentions concerning Othello:
Though I do hate him as I do hell-pains.
Yet, for necessity of present life,
I must show out a flag and sign of love,
Which is indeed but sign. (10)
Here, Shakespeare also demonstrates how naive and sincere souls such as Othello can be deluded by hypocrites. The Moor is presented as honest, straightforward, but too gullible; he tells the story of their love with Desdemona in front of all, including senators and Brabantio. Such honesty makes the figure of Othello a very attractive one, but the reader cannot help feeling that being too open can bring harm and be a good source for poisonous deeds of such villains as Iago. The Moor considers his ancient to be a man . . . of honest and trust (31) and leaves his wife in the city for Iagos responsibility, duped by his seeming love and loyalty. Such gullibility may turn out to be fatal, as the writer demonstrates in the play.
In essence, the first act makes a comprehensible introduction and insight into the major conflicts revealed in the play; the genius draws a picture of precursors that will later lead to fatal consequences. Thus, one gets introduced to the topics of envy, jealousy, and hypocrisy, which are capable of poisoning both the doer and the sufferers of the evil deeds. Most honorable of men get into vice and filth under the manipulation of envious villains, and sincerity may be abused and plagued by foul intentions; that is the insight Shakespeare presents right in the first act of his masterpiece.
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