Performance 1600s
Othello Soldier from North Africa. Employed as a general by the city-state of Venice. Highly respected but still an outsider because of skin color. He marries Desdemona.
Desdemona Beautiful and accomplished, young, pure, not evil. Protected by her father. Stands for love and is in love with Othello.
Iago Villain. Soldier 3rd in command. Seeks revenge and wants to destroy Othello’s values.
Emilia Married to Iago. She loves and would do anything for Iago. She is Desdemona’s maidservant.
Cassio He is 2nd in command. Respectful and loyal. He respects Desdemona (not a love interest). He suffers from a drinking problem.
Brabantio Father of Desdemona. He is the senator.
Roderigo In love with Desdemona and is a fool.
Bianca A prostitute that Cassio hires. She loves him but Cassio just pretends to like her.
Montano The governor of Cyprus before Othello
Lodovico One of Brabantio’s servants and is like a messenger.
Act 1 Roderigo talks with Iago and explains how he still really loves Desdemona and wants to be with her. Desdemona is in love with Othello. Othello promotes Cassio to be next in charge and this makes Iago angry. Iago is angry because he has a lot more experience then Cassio does. Iago does not like Othello and just pretends to like him. Desdemona’s father finds out that she is marrying Othello and is not happy about it. He looks for Desdemona as Iago goes and finds Othello. Iago warns Othello that her father is coming to try and split them up. Cassio comes with news from Cyprus and needs Othello’s help. Just as this is happening Desdemona’s father and his men have a little fight with Othello’s men and decide to take this matter to the duke. The Turks are trying to invade and they think the next place that they are going to hit is Cyprus. There meeting is interrupted when the men come in. Othello tells the men that he did marry Desdemona but tells them that she feel in love with him. She loved hearing about his many adventures. The Duke believes Othello. The duke wants to send Othello to Cyprus and he agrees but he wants Desdemona to come with him which they allow. Iago and Roderigo are left talking and they will follow them to Cyprus. Iago explains his whole plan to make Othello believe that Cassio slept with Desdemona.
Act 2 There was a storm and they wonder if Othello’s ship had made it safe. They see a ship but it was the one caring Desdemona, Iago,Emilia, and Roderigo. They wait for Othello to arrive. Iago is criticizes women and how they act. Desdemona does not agree with what he is saying. Cassio and Desdemona leave. Iago wants to use that against Cassio. Othello arrives with no harm and greets his wife. She is very happy to see him. Roderigo and Iago talk and Iago tells him that Desdemona will get tired of Othello and the next man she will go to will be Cassio. Iago tells Roderigo to start an argument with Cassio that night. Iago is left alone and believes that Othello has slept with his wife Emilia. Othello leaves Cassio to be the watchman. Cassio is with Iago and Cassio drinks a lot and gets drunk. Montano and Cassio get into a fight and Cassio ends up stabbing him. Othello comes down and wants to know what is going on. Nobody wants to say anything but Iago finally speaks up and tells Othello what happened. Othello relieves Cassio from his position. Desdemona was awaken but Othello brings her back to bed. Iago and Cassio are speaking and Iago thinks he should talk to Desdemona and try and get his position back. Cassio is very sad because he was drunk. Roderigo is upset because he feels defeated but Iago tells him this is all a part of his plan. Iago is second in command now.
Act 3 Cassio sends musicians to Othello to try and make him feel better. He also has a clown. Desdemona thinks that Cassio should have his position back but Othello disagrees with her. Desdemona, Emilia and Cassio are talking about the matter until Othello and Iago get there. Cassio quickly departs. Othello tells Desdemona that he will speak to Cassio but it was not the right moment. Iago and Cassio are alone and Iago starts putting the idea that Desdemona and Casio are having an affair. Othello believes that he is not good enough for her and that she probably doesn’t love him anymore. Othello and Desdemona and Emilia are talking and they go to dinner. Desdemona drops her handkerchief. Emilia takes the handkerchief and gives it to her husband because he had been asking for it. Iago plans to put it in Cassio’s room to frame him. Othello is very angry because he believes she is having an affair. Othello wants revenge. Desdemona wonders where she put the handkerchief as Othello walks in asking about it. Tells her it is a very important piece of his family and storms off. Bianca finds Cassio and he tells her to make him a handkerchief just like the one he found in the room that morning. They will meet later.
Act 4 Iago and Othello continue to talk about the affair as Othello goes into another fit. Cassio sees Iago but he tells him to go and come back. Othello awakes and Iago told him to hide near by and he would get him his proof. Iago tells Cassio to tell him the story about Bianca and Othello thought he was talking about Desdemona. This made him furious. Bianca enters with the handkerchief. Othello is so angry with Desdemona and Iago is arranging Cassio’s death. Othello confronts Desdemona about her affair and she is taken back. She cannot believe he would think that. Emilia tells Othello that Desdemona is pure and only loves him. He still doesn’t believe it and they go to bed. Iago tells them that Othello is only bothered with political business. Desdemona knows that death is near.
Act 5 Roderigo try’s to kill Cassio but fails as Cassio stabs and wounds Roderigo. Iago comes and stabs Cassio. Cassio is hurt but he doesn’t know by who. Othello believes that Iago has killed him and goes up to kill Desdemona. Iago pretends to find Cassio and help him with other men. Othello stabs Desdemona. Cassio is alive which Emilia tells Othello. Desdemona tells Emilia that she has killed herself. Othello weeps for his dead wife. All of the truths seem to come out and Othello feels really bad. Othello stabs Iago wounding him. Othello pulls a third dagger and stabs himself falling next to his wife. He would have been stripped of his command.
Dynamic character Othello: he is sane in the beginning then he gets jealous. Character changes from beginning to end.
Static character Stays the same throughout the story. Desdemona who stays pure and Iago who stays evil.
Foil Character who highlights or emphasizes certain traits of the main character by contrasting them.
Othello vs. himself Insecure, doesn’t want to distrust Desdemona
Iago vs. Othello Wants revenge
Iago vs. Cassio Jealous of Cassio
Dramatic irony Reader or audience knows
Verbal irony Words, sarcasm
Situational irony Event that contradicts the expectation
Semantic Notes:
Verbal revolution People feel threatened by the flood of words outside of areas of interest they may be indifferent
Advantages Help us communicate across time and space (sophisticated manner)
Disadvantages Verbal pollution
Language can be Confusing, fear-inducing, comforting with false hope
Verbal pollution Gobbledegook: meaningless words/expressions Communication in which the meaning is somewhere among the weighty words and winding sentences
Verbal barking Use words as weapons. People use language to impress and frighten or threaten people. Not to communicate
Meaningless words (Mumbo jumbo) Doesn’t make sense or to much meaning
Allness The idea that no one can know all about anything. Iago has an allness attitude towards women.
Map The words, ideas and images in our heads. Iago projects a false Map of Desdemona to Othello.
Territory The reality and events outside of ourselves. Map does not equal territory because Desdemona is LOYAL
Projection Projecting our mental maps on the territories around us. Iago planting Desdemona’s impurity into Othello’s head.
Two valued orientation Thinking in “either or” terms. Often results from two valued language. Othello thought people were either cheating or not (no grey area)
Labeling Definitely identifying something or someone using the word “is”
Unsanity The “best” human beings are in touch with “reality” and have accurate observations of their inner lives and the world around them. Othello fails to see Desdemona’s loyalty.
Perception We tend to see what we expect to see. Iago sets up convo with Cassio. We tend to see what suits our purpose at the time. Rodrigo believes Iago lies to win Desdemona. We tend to see what our background has prepared us to see. Desdemona is pure, Othello sees a complex world.
Multi or infinite valued orientation Thinking in terms that are NOT “either or” terms. Emilia tells Othello the truth
Connotation What a word means in our own intensional world. Love
Denotation A words dictionary definition. Intense feeling
Intensional The pattern of events inside ourselves. Jealousy/Insecurity
Extensional The pattern of events outside of ourselves. Lies