August 17, 2012
The motif of deception and truth is evident throughout act one.
Iago’s speech in lines forty-three to sixty-seven reveals the disparity between Iago’s true intentions and his actions. Regarding Othello, Iago states, “In following him, I follow but myself” (Sc.1, 60), and reveals his intentions of deceiving Othello by confessing, “not I for love and duty, But seeming so, for my peculiar end” (Sc.1, 61-62). Internally, Iago harbors disloyalty for Othello, but externally, Iago displays loyalty- creating deception based on appearances. Iago’s monologue characterizes him as the worker of Evil by paralleling the Bible in regards to his intentions; “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
The dialogue between the duke and the senators esteems reason as the way to truth and reaffirms the futility of appearances. In lines one through thirteen reveals the Duke and Senators’ certainty in the Turkish fleet approaching Cypress despite the inconsistent reports of the number of Turkish fleets. The certainty in rationality over observations is explained by First Senator; by reason, he understands “th’ importancy of Cyprus to the Turk” (Sc.3, 22) and acknowledges that the Turks “with more facile question bear it” (Sc.3, 25). Through this dialogue, Shakespeare underscores rational thinking above perception as means to get to the truth. In response to news of the Turkish fleet heading for Rhodes, not Cypress, the senator asserts, “By no assay of reason. ‘Tis a pageant, To keep us in false gaze” (Sc.3, 20-21), emphasizing the deceptive nature of knowledge through observation. At the end of the dialogue, the elevation of reason over perception becomes validated when the messenger confirms that the Turks “purposes toward...