Literature Study GuidesOthelloAct 1 Scene 3 Summary

Othello | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Course Hero. "Othello Study Guide." December 20, 2016. Accessed October 20, 2019. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Othello/.

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Course Hero, "Othello Study Guide," December 20, 2016, accessed October 20, 2019, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Othello/.

Act 1, Scene 3

Professor Bradley Greenburg of Northeastern Illinois University provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Act 1, Scene 3 of William Shakespeare's play Othello.

Othello | Act 1, Scene 3 | Summary

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Summary

The Duke of Venice and his senators meet to determine where the Turkish navy is most likely to attack. When Othello and Brabantio arrive, Brabantio accuses Othello of charming, or even drugging, his daughter into marrying him. Othello's responds with an account of how Brabantio invited him to his house, where Desdemona fell in love with him because of his stories of war and adventure. He suggests they summon Desdemona for her side of the story, and when she arrives she supports Othello's version of events. Brabantio warns Othello that, "She has deceived her father, and may thee." The Duke orders Othello to Cyprus to fend off the invasion. Desdemona insists on going with him. Roderigo, upset at how things have turned out, is reassured by Iago, who urges him to go to Cyprus too.

Analysis

In this last scene set in Venice, it's important to note that Othello is confident and charismatic, a leader of men and an object of desire. The Duke and senators clearly prefer him to Brabantio, even after the latter appeals to racial and customary kinship with his fellow Venetian citizens. His stories bolster this sense of his accomplishment, winning over Desdemona. This set of experiences, and his eloquence in relating them, are Othello's source of strength. As Othello remarks, "She loved me for the dangers I had passed, And I loved her that she did pity them." Their marriage, flying in the face of convention, is based on a romantic notion of adventure that Othello trades on and Desdemona feeds on, in hopes of escaping her father's suffocating will. While Desdemona is a strong character who stands up for her desire and choice of husband, she's also potentially caught in a fantasy, since she has little experience of the world. We'll want to keep this in mind as we see how Iago works to plant the seeds of their destruction by preying on these insecurities.

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