Main Characters:Othello -Soldier form North Africa-Employed as a general by the city-state of Venice-Highly respected, but still an “outsider” because of his skin color-Marries Desdemona
Desdemona -Beautiful and accomplished young Venetian women-Protected by her father-She stands for love, trust, and purity—all that makes life meaning and worth living
Iago -Soldier who works with Othello-Wants to be Othello’s second in command but is passed over for Cassio-Seeks vicious revenge -Plots to de story all that Othello values
Emilia -Maidservant to Desdemona-Married to Iago-Loyal to Desdemona, but will tell lies if it will help her husband
Cassio -Gentleman soldier, not much real experience -Man of ability, loyalty, and grace-Respects Desdemona and Othello -Is NOT a love interest for Desdemona -Suffers from a drinking problem-Gets violent when he drinks
Brabanzio -Father of Desdemona -Venetian nobleman and senator
Roderigo -In love with Desdemona-Listens to Iago’s plan to get Desdemona away from Othello-A fool!
Bianca -A prostitute-Favored by Cassio-Cassio teases her with marriage
Duke of Venice -Official authority of Venice-Respects Othello -Sent him to Cyprus
Montano -Governor of Cyprus before Othello-He awaits the Venetian ships and recounts the status of the war
Lodovico -One of Brabanzio’s kinsmen-A messenger from Venice to Cyprus
Graziano -Brabanzio’s kinsman-Accompanies Lodovico to Cyprus
Clown -Othello’s servant
Act One Summary Cassio is named Lieutenant over Iago, which upsets Iago because he is essentially more qualified than Cassio. This begins Iago’s plan for vengeance, Iago also enlists Roderigo who is in love with Desdemona. Desdemona and Othello are married, and Roderigo and Iago wake up Desdemona’s father Brabanzio to alert him that his daughter has run off with Othello. Brabanzio confronts Othello about his daughter causing a borderline hostile confrontation. Brabanzio decides that the state has to hear his case conerncing his daughter and Othello. Cyprus ships are spotted coming towards Venice, and Othello readies his troops for a battle against Cyprus. Desdemona and Othello appeal to allow Desdemona to come with him, which is granted, so she stays with Iago until she can go to Othello. Iago them decides that he is going to use the lovestruck Roderigo as a pawn to break up Desdemona and Othello.
Act Two Summary Due to a storm in Cyprus, the Turkish fleet and their attack is stopped. However the storm also affects Othello’s ships. The storm destroys the Turkish ships, and a second boat is spotted that has: Desemona, Iago, and his wife Emilia on board. Cassio greats them, Iago and Desdemona get into a fight about women and we begin to see Iago’s “true self”. Iago begins to persuade Roderigo to believe his lies and tells Roderigo that he should attack Cassio. Othello begins to celebrate his marriage with Desdemona, and brings good news to his troops concerning the defeated Turkish fleet. Iago then gets Cassio to drink, despite Cassio being reluctant to drink because he is a drunk. Eventually Cassio’s and Roderigo get into a fight because Cassio is drunk, Cassio than stabs Montano who tried to stop the fight. Othello then comes and asks what happened. Cassio’s than become visibly upset because his reputation with Othello has been tarnished.
Act Three Summary A clown and Cassio have an interaction who basically tells the clown to tell Desdemona that he needs to speak to her. He also tells Iago this, and then Emilia tells Cassio to come and speak to Desdemona as Cassio hopes that he will be able to fix his reputation with Othello through Desdemona. Desdemona agrees to help Cassio and speak on his behalf. Iago seizes the opportunity and begins to play on Othello’s doubts, getting him to believe that Cassio and Desdemona’s interaction was not an innocent one. Iago then gets Othello to believe that Cassio and Desdemona are essentially hiding something. Othello begins to voice his concern and Desdemona drops her handkerchief, Emilia picks it up and gives it to Iago. Iago then drops it into Cassio’s room to make it seem like Desdemona gave the handkerchief that Othello gave her to Cassio. Cassio then meets up with the prostitute Bianca and asks he to make a copy of the handkerchief that he found. Othello is getting visibly jealous and upset, his personality is beginning to make notable changes.
Act Four Summary Othello is trying to not be too harsh with Desdemona and the false map that Iago created for him. Iago then has Othello hid while he talks to Cassio about Bianca, however Iago makes it seem like he was talking about Desdemona. This angers Othello because their conversation makes Desdemona appear like she did intact cheat on Othello with Cassio. Othello then decides that he is going to kill Desdemona for her perceived transgressions against him. Desdemona also gets slapped by Othello when she mentions Cassio. Othello then begins to question Emilia, who of course does not know anything about Desdemona being unfaithful. Eventually Iago gets Roderigo to believe that if he kills Cassio than he can have Desdemona. Othello demands that Desdemona goes to bed, and to dismiss Emilia. At this point Desdemona knows that she is going to die and begrudgingly accepts her fate because she knows that there is now way out.
Act Five Summary Roderigo and Cassio fight each other, and both become injured. Roderigo is still alive and is killed by Iago. Bianca gets blamed for the injured Cassio and dead Roderigo. Othello has left to go kill Desdemona. Desdemona is asleep when Othello enters her room, however Desdemona does wake up before Othello kills her. Othello tells Desdemona to repent before she dies, however she continues to proclaim her innocence—which is the truth—. Othello begins to smother Desdemona, Emilia knocks and is let in by Othello, she tells him of Cassio’s injury and Roderigo’s death. Desdemona eventually dies and Othello becomes very upset, Emilia tells him about what Iago was doing. Iago kills Emilia for revealing his plan. Othello them stabs Iago, and then Othello kills himself out of grief. Iago however does not die, but is taken back to Venice to be judged for his crimes.
Static and Dynamic Characters Dynamic Character: Character changes from beginning and endStatic Character: Character does not change
Othello Othello is a strong example of a DYNAMIC CHARACTER:-Courageous Venetian soldier -Well respected-Has reputation as a man of honor-Has vicious temper-Becomes enraged with jealousy
Iago Iago is a STATIC CHARACTER:-Corrupt character -Hypocritical-Evil-Selfish-Focused throughout the play to destroy Othello
Foil Foil: a character who highlights or emphasizes certain traits of the main character by contrasting them.Example:-Emilia is the foil to Desdemona-Cassio is the foil to Iago
Conflicts, Internal Othello vs. Himself: -Doesn’t want to distrust Desdemona-Insecure about his qualities to enable Desdemona to love him
Conflicts, External Iago Vs. Othello:-Iago hates Othello and plots to bring his downfall
Iago vs. Cassio Iago is jealous of Cassio, and works to ruin his reputation, as well as separate him from Othello’s friendship
Irony—3 Types Dramatic Irony: -A contradiction between what a character thinks and what the reader or audience knows to be trueSituational Irony:-An event occurs that directly contradicts the expectations of the characters, readers,mor audience Verbal Irony:-Words are used to suggest the opposite of what is meant (I.e. Sarcasm, double-entendre, etc)
Themes Being an outsider:-Prejudice against Othello—skin color—from Africa, not Venice -Warrior rather than courtier and politician —unfamiliar with societal conventions —death mainly with men and battle, not women and loveDestructive nature:-Iago jealous of Cassio’s position-Othello suspecting Desdemona’s unfaithfulnessImportance of Honor and Reputation-Cassio-Desdemona Appearance Versus Reality:-“Honest Iago”-Desdemona and Cassio Loyalty Versus Treachery:-The ones Othello believes are treacherous are actually loyal—Cassio—Desdemona
Motifs Motifs: Major topics related to theme-Animals-Jealousy-Sight and darkness-The handkerchief-Magic-Evil and the devil
Setting Act One: VeniceAct Two-Five: Cyprus16th Century:-Entire play covers a couple of days
Locations Venice:-A city-state of enormous mercantile wealth-Venice in Shakespeare’s time was a byword for luxury and culture and was also famous for its Judicial system
Locations Cyprus:-Island, near Turkey and Syria-Was annexed by Venice in 1489 and conquered by the Turks in 1571
Terms and Concepts Moor:-in Shakespeare’s time, equivalent to “African” with the expectation that such as person would be black-this was not a negative or derogatory word (then)-originally it meant “native of Mauretania” a country in North Africa (present day Morocco)
Othello’s position and status Professional soldier
Military Terms Ancient: military rankLieutenant
Ways to Understand more easily Word order, read in sentences, archaic language, footnotes, overall sense, contractions
Allness The idea that no one can know all about anything. Belief that one does know all about something leads to blocked communication (“I know it all, so why should I listen?”), and an inability to learn or change (static mental map)Example: Every time one of the characters say “all women” or “all venitians” is an example of allness because they are making a generalization about a group of people, and what they are sayso no isn’t true because they do not know that all be people fall into the group. This is generally based off of the interactions of one person, and how they act.
Map The words, ideas and images in our heads.Example: Othello believing that Desdemona is cheating on him. (False map created by Iago)
Territory The reality and events outside of ourselves.Example: Desdemona .was honest and faithful, she did not cheat day on Othello.
Projection Projecting our mental maps on the territories around us.Example: Othello perceived Desdemona as cheating on him with Cassio because Iago projects his mental map onto Othello, creating Othello’s false map.
Two-Valued orientation Thinking in “either-or” terms. Often results from two-valued language.Example One: Othello’s choice to kill or spare Desdemona for her perceived transgressions. Example Two: Roderigo believes that he either has Desdemona for himself or he has to kill himself.
Labeling Definitely identifying something or someone using the word “is”.Example: Iago saying “I hate the moor”. Labeling Othello as black and demeaning him by not using his actual name.
Unsanity The “best” human beings are in touch with “reality” and have accurate observations of their inner lives and the world around them. “Insane” people are out of touch with reality and hear “unreal” voices and see “unreal” things. People in the middle are “unsane”-these people often confuse intensional events with extensional “reality”. Example: Othello in the middle of the play. Iago is starting to project a false map for Othello. When Iago tricks Othello into thinking Desdemona is cheating on him with Cassio. When Iago se s it up so Othello hears him talking to Cassio about his wife, but sounds lovely like Desdemona.
Perception 1. We tend to see what we expect to see.2. We tend to see what suits our purposes at the time.3. We tend to see what our background has prepared us to see.Examples:1. Othello sees Desdemona as cheating when he sees her talking to Cassio because that is what he expected to see.2. No matter what Iago tells Roderigo he believes him out of desperation because he wants Desdemona.3. Desdemona comes from a noble family so she is not use to betrayal and people not believing her.
Multi-or infinite-valued orientation Thinking in terms that are NOT “either-or” terms. Uses language that is NOT two-valued.Example: Desdemona is an example of this because she sees past everything Othello and Iago say and do. She does not get stuck up on the small things in life, she moves past them.Emilia is also an example of this.
Connotation What a word means in our own intensional world.Example:Honest—Iago is referred to as “honest Iago”.Love v. Lust
Denotation A word’s dictionary meaning-what the world means in the extensional world.Example:Honest-“honest Iago”Love v. Lust
Intensional The pattern of events inside ourselves.Example: jealousy
Extensional The pattern of events outside of ourselves.Example: lies