Othello The play’s protagonist and hero. A Christian Moor and general of the armies of Venice, Othello is an eloquent and physically powerful figure, respected by all those around him. In spite of his elevated status, he is nevertheless easy prey to insecurities because of his age, his life as a soldier, and his race. He possesses a “free and open nature,” which his ensign Iago uses to twist his love for his wife, Desdemona, into a powerful and destructive jealousy
Desdemona The daughter of the Venetian senator Brabanzio. Desdemona and Othello are secretly married before the play begins. While in many ways stereotypically pure and meek, Desdemona is also determined and self-possessed. She is equally capable of defending her marriage, jesting bawdily with Iago, and responding with dignity to Othello’s incomprehensible jealousy.
Iago Othello’s ensign (a job also known as an ancient or standard-bearer), and the villain of the play. Iago is twenty-eight years old. While his ostensible reason for desiring Othello’s demise is that he has been passed over for promotion to lieutenant, Iago’s motivations are never very clearly expressed and seem to originate in an obsessive, almost aesthetic delight in manipulation and destruction.
Cassio Othello’s lieutenant. Cassio is a young and inexperienced soldier, whose high position is much resented by Iago. Truly devoted to Othello, Cassio is extremely ashamed after being implicated in a drunken brawl on Cyprus and losing his place as lieutenant. Iago uses Cassio’s youth, good looks, and friendship with Desdemona to play on Othello’s insecurities about Desdemona’s fidelity.
Emilia Iago’s wife and Desdemona’s attendant. A cynical, worldly woman, she is deeply attached to her mistress and distrustful of her husband.
Roderigo A jealous suitor of Desdemona. Young, rich, and foolish, Roderigo is convinced that if he gives Iago all of his money, Iago will help him win Desdemona’s hand. Repeatedly frustrated as Othello marries Desdemona and then takes her to Cyprus, Roderigo is ultimately desperate enough to agree to help Iago kill Cassio after Iago points out that Cassio is another potential rival for Desdemona.
Bianca A courtesan, or prostitute, in Cyprus. Bianca’s favorite customer is Cassio, who teases her with promises of marriage.
Brabanzio Desdemona’s father, a somewhat blustering and self-important Venetian senator. As a friend of Othello, Brabanzio feels betrayed when the general marries his daughter in secret.
Duke of Venice The official authority in Venice, the duke has great respect for Othello as a public and military servant. His primary role within the play is to reconcile Othello and Brabanzio in Act I, scene iii, and then to send Othello to Cyprus.
Montano The governor of Cyprus before Othello. We see him first in Act II, as he recounts the status of the war and awaits the Venetian ships.
Lodovico One of Brabanzio’s kinsmen, Lodovico acts as a messenger from Venice to Cyprus. He arrives in Cyprus in Act IV with letters announcing that Othello has been replaced by Cassio as governor
Graziano Brabanzio’s kinsman who accompanies Lodovico to Cyprus. Amidst the chaos of the final scene, Graziano mentions that Desdemona’s father has died.
Clown Othello’s servant. Although the clown appears only in two short scenes, his appearances reflect and distort the action and words of the main plots: his puns on the word “lie” in Act III, scene iv, for example, anticipate Othello’s confusion of two meanings of that word in Act IV, scene i.
How does Iago say he hates othello so much and what does he mean when he says “in following him, i follow by myself”? Othello hates Iago so much because he is jealous that othello received a promotion. He means that he is secretly looking to better himself
What do Iago and Roderigo hope to accomplish by shouting insulting remarks about Othello and Desdemona under Brabantio’s window? They want to awaken Brabantio and get him to rise against othello
How does Brabantio assume the Moor won his daughter? He believes the moor won her through deceit
What are Othello and Iago talking about at the opening of this scene? About Brabantio’s plans to come for Othello
what is roderigo complaining about in the opening scene? Othello’s love with Desdemona and how Brabantio did not let him marry Desdemona
After iago lied and told Othello that Cassio confessed going to bed with Desdemona, what advice does he give the overwhelmed Othello ? To kill Desdemona and he will take care of Cassio
What happens to Othello in Scene 1? How does Iago respond? Othello gets into a big fit and Iago makes fun of him (also othello gets called back to venice)
How does Iago trick Othello into thinking cassio is gloating and bragging about his affair with Desdemona? Iago makes Cassio talk about Bianca so it looks like Cassio is talking about Desdemona
Why is Bianca angry with Cassio She thinks Cassio has been unfaithful
How does Bianca’s return with the handkerchief help Iago? It shows Othello that Bianca as the Handkerchief that she received from Cassio
Why does Othello hit Desdemona? Because she unknowingly says something that makes Othello believe that she is having an affair with Cassio
Who is Lodovico and why has he come to Venice? Lodovico is Desdemona’s cousin and is there to give Othello a letter
What is Lodovico’s reaction to Othello’s behavior towards Desdemona? How does Iago later explain Othello’s behavior to Lodovico? Lodovico is very surprised that the noble Othello hit Desdemona. Iago explains to Lodovico that Othello’s behavior is actually much worse than that
Why does Othello ask Emilia about Cassio’s affair with Desdemona and what is her reply? Because Emilia is always with Desdemona and her reply is that Desdemona will never be unfaithful to Othello
How correctly does Othello identify his weakness in scene 2? Othello admits that jealousy is his weakness, but his real weakness is that he is too honost/trusting
To whom does Desdemona turn for help after Othello calls her a strumpet? iago
Why does Iago tell Rodriego to kill Cassio? Why does Roderigo consent to think about it? Because Venice made cassio governor…Roderigo consents to think about it because he is desperate to get to Desdemona
If roderigo kills Cassio what promise has Iago taken care of? There would be mo voices of truth to answer
Given Scene 3, between Desdemona and Emilia, is it at all possible that Desdemona could ever be unfaithful to Othello? No way because Desdemona does not believe that people would ever cheat on their spouses
What is the effect of the “Willow Song” and the interruptions to it? To show her paranoia; trying to talk herself out of a purpose to her singing the song
How would Iago gain from Roderigo’s death? Cassio Nothing could be traced back to them if they were dead
What happens when Roderigo attacks Cassio? Who actually wounds Cassio? Iago actually wounds Cassio
What does Othello assume has happened? is he correct? That Iago killed Cassio…he is wrong
Where did Desdemona receive the handkerchief, and what does Desdemona’s handkerchief symbolize? It was given to her as a wedding present; it is a symbol of something precious between Desdemona and Othello
What happens with Iago and the handkerchief? The handkerchief is carelessly mislaid and then used by Iago for his own evil purposes
It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul, Let me not name it to you, you chaste stars! It is the cause. Yet I’ll not shed her blood;Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow, And smooth as monumental alabaster. Yet she must die, else she’ll betray more men. Put out the light, and then put out the light: If I quench thee, thou flaming minister, I can again thy former light restore, Should I repent me: but once put out thy light, Thou cunning’st pattern of excelling nature, I know not where is that Promethean heat That can thy light relume. When I have pluck’d the rose, I cannot give it vital growth again. It must needs wither: I’ll smell it on the tree. In this quote, Othello is speaking to himself. He is is hovering over the sleeping Desdemona trying to prepare himself to kill her. He says that he is going to kill Desdemona because of “the cause”, the crime that she has committed, a crime so horrible that he can’t say what it is; “let me not name it to you”. Othello denies to himself that he is killing Desdemona for himself and out of jealousy by saying that if he doesn’t kill her “she’ll betray more men” Othello does this because he can’t face the truth and would be ashamed of his real reason.
– All, all, cry shame against me, yet I’ll speak.- Be wise, and get you home.- I will not. [- tries to stab Emilia.]- Fie! Your sword upon a woman?- O thou dull Moor! that handkerchief thou speak’st of I found by fortune and did give my husband; For often, with a solemn earnestness, More than indeed belong’d to such a trifle,He begg’d of me to steal it In this quote Iago attempts to use his sword on his wife Emila when she starts to tell the truth about the handkerchief. Gratiano and others restrain Iago while Emilia shouts out the truth that she found the handkerchief and gave it to her husband because he frequently asked for her and begged her to steal it. This is significant because Othello is finally realizing the truth about Iago and his plans. Iago’s forceful actions toward his wife also show that the reason he is trying to keep her quiet is because he does not want the truth to come out.
Whip me, ye devils,From the possession of this heavenly sight!Blow me about in winds! roast me in sulphur!Wash me in steep-down gulfs of liquid fire!O Desdemon! Desdemon! dead!O, O! (5.2.277-282) In this quote, Othello mourns the loss of his wife. He admits that he is overwhelmed with guilt. He knows that he has committed a crime so big that it would be better for him to live in hell.
I have made my way through more impediments 264 Than twenty times your stop. But (O vain boast!) 265 Who can control his fate? ’tis not so now. 266 Be not afraid, though you do see me weapon’d; 267 Here is my journey’s end, here is my butt, 268 And very sea-mark of my utmost sail. In this quote Othello tells Gratiano that although he has a very dangerous weapon that he has used to kill many times, he should not be worried because he has already seen his fate. He admits that he is so weak that he can do nothing but retreat and he has no where to go but to remain right where he is – next to Desdemona’s body