I find the drastic difference between the way the soldiers are depicted in Much Ado and Othello very interesting. You can tell right off the bat this is going to be a different kind of play, as is opens In Media Res with Iago’s contempt of Othello and plot to destroy his life. Iago is obviously not the kind to respect authority, and I’m sure as the play goes on he will only develop further as a manipulative asshole. The steady stream of racial slurs out of his mouth in the first act alone says a lot about his character. I don’t know if this was less abhorrent in Shakespeare’s time as it is now, but either way anyone who uses people’s race as a weapon against them is shitty.
That being said, I do thing Iago is going to make the play very interesting for us. He would be more comparable to Don John in Much Ado, but I read Iago as being of similar status to Benedick and Claudio. Even considering Benedick’s contempt for love at the beginning of the play, he isn’t out to destroy Claudio’s life just because he’s in love. Iago seems all too happy to ruin the life of his commander out of sheer jealousy. It’s also interesting to note that while in the opening act Iago says that Othello knows nothing of war or the military, Othello demonstrates his knowledge in the meeting between him and the Senate.
Returning to the comparison between this and Much Ado, I think that the father-daughter relationships are also polar opposites. While Hero’s father wants her to marry Claudio and is excited, Desdemona’s is already depicted as an overprotective father (referencing how he already turned down Roderigo) and is furious to learn of her marriage to a wealthy man of status. Whether it has to do with race is still unclear, but it’s definitely hinted at.
I already find this play a lot more interesting than the comedies we read, as there is already a lot of dramatic tension right from the very beginning. Instead of working towards the goal of love, the love has already been reached, and now we are working towards it’s destruction and what seems like one man’s attempt to break another. I’m excited to see where this goes as we get further on in the play.