Othello

When did Shakespeare write his plays? The 1600’s (about 400 years ago)
Jacobean A play written in the time of King James.
Othello A general and a moor who murders his wife Desdemona because of jealousy.
Iago is Spanish for… James
Moor A black-skinned person from North Africa.
What is one of the themes in Othello? Otherness/being an outsider. Othello is an outsider to Venetian society because of his skin color.
Desdemona Wife of Othello
Who played the role of women in Shakespeare’s time and why? Only men could act on stage in Shakespeare’s time, so men played all of the female roles.
What is the name of the theater Shakespeare co-owned? The Globe
List some of Shakespeare’s tragedies Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, MacBeth
List some of Shakespeare’s comedies 12th Night, Measure for Measure, As You Like It
Were Shakespeare’s plays original ideas? No – he used ideas from other stories, myths and legends.
Where are two places Othello is set? Venice and Cyprus.
Discuss racism that exists in Othello Othello is a foreigner so he is already an outsider to Venetian society. His skin color is black which makes him even more of an outsider. The King (Desdemona’s father) does not want him to marry Desdemona because he is black. There is also racism against Venice itself – it is seen as seedy and lacking in sexual morality.
Double-time in Othello If you read the play closely you will see that not enough time could have elapsed on Cyprus for Desdemona to have committed adultery. Shakespeare creates an unrealistic passage of time in Othello.
Who are the 3 main characters in Othello? Othello, Desdemona, and Iago.
Depraved Corrupt, wicked, or perverted.
Who is the most depraved character in Othello? Iago, the ensign.
Ensign The lowest commissioned officer in the military, often the one who carries the flag.
In what period was Othello written? Elizabethan England. (During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I).
Othello A Moor, he is a cultural and racial outsider in Venice, but his skill as a soldier makes him an integral part of the Venetian state.
Desdemona Wife of Othello and daughter of Brabantio. She is at a faithful wife but shows another bolder and more independent side at times.
Iago Venetian ensign (later lieutenant). Sensitive to slights. He relishes his manipulative skill, and the pain he causes. He first loves Desdemona but because she doesn’t return his love, he then hates her and sets out to destroy her.
Emilia Iago’s wife / Desdemona’s maid
Roderigo A rich, young Venetian noble who has a crush on Desdemona.
Bianca A courtesan, or prostitute, in Cyprus
Brabantio Desdemona’s father, and a Venetian senator
Handkerchief A crucial prop and motif. Othello gives this family heirloom to Desdemona. When she drops it, Emilia gives it to Iago…
Cyprus The action moves here in Act Two: an isolated island setting, separated from civilization.
Jealousy motif “the green-eyed monster that rules out the worst in men”. It drives both Othello and Iago.
Venice Where the play begins. Associated by the English with promiscuity, and lack of morality, but the seat of power in the play.
Conflict which drives the play Iago’s desire to destroy Othello.
Resolution Iago is arrested for his crimes and is to be tortured.
The Willow Song Desdemona sings this. It has symbolic significance.
What are two reasons Iago gives for resenting Othello? Cassio was given the position of lieutenant instead of him; there is a rumour that Othello has slept with his wife, Emilia.
What is the situation on stage at the start of Act 1 Scene 1? Roderigo and Iago are outside Brabatio’s house at night. They plan to wake him up with the news that his daughter has been taken from him to be married by Othello.
Why did Desdemona fall in love with Othello? The stories he told her.
Iago uses this metaphor to describe his plan. A spider’s web.
What does Desdemona do when Othello asks for the handkerchief? She lies about having lost it.
Cuckold A man whose wife is unfaithful.
What is Desdemona’s final act of loyalty to Othello? She does not tell Emilia that Othello killed her, blaming herself instead.
What century did Shakespeare write in? The 17th century (which was the 1600’s).

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