Have you ever watched a drama that immediately submerges the audience in the opening scene? Yes? No? Shakespeare used this technique in Othello, but why? What effect does he want this opening scene to have on the audience? Keep them interested in his story.
Of course, all composers and writers want their readers to read on, want to attract their attention, even Shakespeare. Shakespeare wants to put audience in the scene, in the play. Let the audience be a part of the play by submerging the audience in the deception via Iago’s speech from the opening scene. He makes the audience feel like being a passer- by in the street of Venice. They hear the argument between Iago and Roderigo. Then follow them to Brabantio like paparazzi. Shakespeare keeps the audience stick to the story. I think this is the effect he wants to have on the audience by making them feel like a part of the play, like they are not audience, but one of the actor which is unseen.
Shakespeare has brought the audience into his play. He piques audience’s curiosity and makes the audience yearn or have a desire to continue watch his play.
“Tush, never tell me, I take it much unkindly that thou, Iago, who hast had my purse as if the strings were thine shouldst know of this.”
Said Roderigo at the beginning in an urgent tone. This makes a sense of emergency, actually almost the whole scene is quite intense. This is also how Shakespeare piques the audience’s curiosity and their attention; keep them from falling asleep.
By bringing the audience into the scene, to the street of Venice immediately and hear the whole conversation between Iago and Roderigo, the audience learn what is about the story. Unlike the other plays and dramas, Shakespeare does not use reverse chronology, but let the audience know what is happening in the story at the beginning. From the opening scene, the audience can know that Roderigo has paid Iago to spy on Othello because Roderigo wishes to take Desdemona, who is Othello’s girlfriend as his own, and also Othello has married Desdemona. Shakespeare makes everything clear in the opening scene, then the audience would not feel puzzled about the story’s theme and what it is about. Therefore I think this is another effect, to make the audience understand the situation clearly.
The first scene acts as an introduction of the play also it sets the stage for the play of deception and backstabbing. In the opening scene, we can know that Iago’s hatred of Othello because Othello has chosen Cassio as his lieutenant but not Iago himself. “In following him, I follow but myself.” and “I am not what I am”. In these few lines which are spoken by Iago, we can learn that Iago is not as loyal as he seems. Roderigo wants to take Desdemona be his girlfriend. It’s kind of jealous of Othello. What will happen if hatred and jealous are combined? It will turn out as revenge. We can know Iago plans to make trouble for Othello.
“Call up her father: Rouse him, make after him, poison his delight, Proclaim him in the street, incense her kinsmen, And though he in a fertile climate dwell, Plague him with flies: though that his joy be joy, Yet throw such chances of vexation on’t As it may lose some colour.”
Iago wants to make trouble for Othello by giving trouble and provoking Brabantio. This scene serves as the beginning of the play and as well as Othello’s love tragedy.
I think Shakespeare has used different technique to write the opening scene unlike the other writer, different way to catch audience’s attention and attract their attention by submerging them into the scene. This makes the audience be a part of the act and also clearly understand the story setting. The scene also indicates the beginning of the doom of Othello.