Othello A soldier from North Africa. Employed as a general by the city/state of Venice. Highly respected but still an outsider because of his skin color. Married to Desdemona. He gets away with his interracial marriage because he is such a good soldier. Kills Desdemona because he is deceived by Iago, then kills himself.
Desdemona Beautiful and accomplished young Venetian woman. Protected by her father. She stands for love, trust, and purity. All that makes life meaningful and worth living. Daughter of Brabantio. Married to Othello and betrays her father to do so. She ends up being killed by Othello after being accused of sleeping with Cassio.
Iago Soldier who works with Othello. Wants to be Othello’s second in command but is passed over for Cassio. Seeks vicious revenge. Wants to destroy all that Othello values. Though it is never proven, it is rumored that Othello slept with his life. Does not really care about Emilia. Iago never changes, only other’s perception of him. Iago is a static character, he is corrupt, evil and selfish. Corrupts Othello, drives him insane, manipulates him into killing Desdemona, kills his wife Emilia, does not die, but is kept for torture by Cassio.
Foil Character who highlights or emphasizes certain traits of the main character by contrasting them. Emilia is the foil to Desdemona. Cassio is the foil to Iago.
Othello and Dynamic Othello is a strong example of dynamic character. Courageous Venetian soldier, well respected, has reputation as man of honor, has a vicious temper, becomes enraged.
Emilia Maidservant to Desdemona and married to Iago. Loyalty to Desdemona but will tell lies if it will help her husband.
Cassio Gentlemen soldier, not much real experience. Man of ability, loyalty and grace. Respects Desdemona and Othello. Is not in love with Desdemona. Suffers from alcoholism. Womanizer. Ended up with Othello’s job as governor after Othello killed Desdemona. Becomes wounded during the final scene.
Brabantio 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.
Dynamic Character Character that changes from beginning to end
Static Character Character does not change.
Projection When someone uses things they are familiar with to generalize what something is.
Othello vs Himself Doesn’t want to trust Desdemona.
Iago vs Othello Iago hates Othello and plots to bring about 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.
Dramatic Irony A contradiction between what a character thinks and what the reader or audience knows to be true
Situational irony An event that directly contradicts the expectations of the characters, readers, or audience.
Verbal Irony Words used to suggest the opposite of what is meant. Sarcasm.
Themes Being an outsider, not being Venetian. Prejudice against Othello meaning skin color.Destructive nature of jealousy, Iago is jealous of Cassio’s position. Othello suspecting Desdemona’s unfaithfulness.Importance of honor and reputation. Cassio. Desdemona.Appearance vs Reality. Honest Iago. Desdemona and Cassio.Loyalty vs Treachery. The ones Othello believes are treacherous but are actually loyal.
Motifs Major topics related to theme.Animals and beastiality.JealousySight and darknessThe handkerchiefMagicEvil and the devil
Setting Act one is in Venice. Acts 2-5 are in Cyprus.16th Century, over a couple of days.
Locations Venice. A city state of enormously s mercantile wealth from trade.A byword for luxury and culture and was also famous from its judicial system.Cyprus. An island near Turkey and Syria. Was annexed by Venice in 1489 and conquered by the Turks in 1571.
Terms and Concepts Moor. Equivalent to African with the expectation that such a a person would be black.Not a negative or derogatory back then but is now.Originally meant native of Mauretania. Morocco now.Ottomans and ottomites are the Turks.
Ancient A military rank, ensign. Iago.
Allness The idea that no one can know all about anything. In Othello this is evident whenever a character says something like “all women” like Iago or “all Venetians”. In all cases though, a generalization is made about a group of people that cannot possibly be true because nobody can know everything about a given subject.
Map The words, ideas and images in our heads. In Othello this is evident when Othello begins thinking that Desdemona is cheating on him.
Territory The reality and events outside of ourselves. Desdemona is a very honest and loyal wife, in the case above it is a false map.
Projection 2 Projecting our mental maps on the territories around us. In Othello this would be Othello believing Iago’s projection that Desdemona was cheating on him.
Two-Valued Orientation Thinking in “either-or” terms. Often results from two valued language. In Othello this would be Othello’s choice to kill or spare Desdemona. There was no marriage counseling.
Labeling Definitively identifying something or someone using the word is. In Othello this would be evident whenever Othello is called the “Moor”.
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 and often confuse intensional events with extensional reality. In Othello this is evident when Iago pushes Othello to go from sane, in loving Desdemona, to unsane when he is questioning her loyalty, then to insane when he kills her.
Perception 1. We tend to see what we expect to see. 1(Othello). Othello sees Desdemona as a cheater.2. We tend to see what suits our purposes at the time.2(Othello). Roderigo wants Desdemona so badly that he is willing to see anything through.3. We tend to see what our background has prepared us to see.3(Othello). Desdemona is noble so she is honest and not used to being betrayed.
Multi-or-Infinite-valued orientation Thinking in terms that are NOT “either-or” terms. Uses language that is NOT two-valued. In Othello Desdemona is an example of this value because she doesn’t get stuck on all of the small things in life, she moves past them.
Connotation What a word means in our own intensional world. Honest Iago does not mean honest.
Denotation A word’s dictionary meaning- what the word means in the extensional world.
Intensional The pattern of events inside ourselves. Jealousy.
Extensional The pattern of events outside of ourselves. Lies.
1.1.39 Iago “O, Sir, content you. I follow him to serve my turn upon him.”To paraphrase this quote… Be calm, I only follow him to achieve my own ends.Lit Term…Pun, ForeshadowingEffect or Function…To justify his seemingly obedient and loyal behavior. Sinister.
1.1.55 Iago “In following him I follow but myself. Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty, But seeming so, for my peculiar end;” To paraphrase this quote… I can only be judged by God and heaven itself, and not for my duty or heart but for the conclusion. Lit Term… Parallelism, Allusion, Hubris, Map does not equal territory. People see Iago as nice but Iago knows he is not honest. Effect or function is to tell of Iago’s feeling of being above everyone else. Appearance VS Reality.
1.1.85 Iago “Even now, now, very now, an old black ram is tupping your white ewe.” To paraphrase would be saying that Othello, a black man is having sex with Brabantio’s innocent daughter Desdemona.this is a metaphor, juxtaposition, asyndeton, connotation, and animal imagery. The purpose is to create conflict, degrade Othello and victimize Desdemona.
1.1.133 Roderigo “Tying her duty, beauty, wit and fortunes In an extravagant and wheeling stranger of here and everywhere.” This basically means that Desdemona is giving everything that she has to Othello. This is labeling, a negative tone, and asyndeton. This is meant to degrade Othello and incite anger while creating a false map.
1.2.3 Iago “I lack inquity sometime to do my service.” This basically means that Iago lacks the conviction to fulfill his duties. That he is not wicked enough.Lit Term… False map to Othello because he is in fact wicked enough and more than capable. As well as sarcastic and ironic. Purpose is dramatic Irony.
1.2.82 Othello “Were it my cue to fight, I should have known it without a prompter.” Basically means that he fights on his own terms. This is a pun, it is ironic, and in this case the map=Territory, He is what he says. The purpose is to show how capable Othello is and what kind of person he is.
1.3.248 Desdemona “My heart’s subdued Even to the quality of my lord. I saw Othello’s visage in his mind” is a quote from Desdemona that means that he stole her heart when she heard his story. This is perception, metaphor, and has a purpose of explaining how Desdemona could fall for someone like Othello.
13.172 Duke “Men do their broken weapons rather use, than their bare hands.” This quote basically means that they should use this situation to their advantage, this metaphor and literal inversion is used to show how resourceful the Duke is.
1.3.283 Othello “A man he is of honest and trust.” This basically means that he, meaning Iago, is an honest and trustworthy man. The irony, in this case, is dramatic , the map does not = territory because Iago truly is not honest.
1.3.290 Brabantio “Look to her Moor, if thou has eyes to see: She has deceived her father and may thee.” This passage is meant as a warning to Othello about Desdemona’s possibility of deception, at the time this may be considered a warped perception and a false map and really is meant to undermine Othello and put Desdemona down.
1.3.303 Roderigo “I will incontinently drown myself,” is basically Roderigo’s confession that he will kill himself if he cannot have Desdemona’s love. This may be hyperbole, and is definitely a 2 valued perception. This is meant to show his desperation at having Desdemona.
1.3.374 Iago “Thus do I ever make my fool my purse,” basically means that he is making a fool of Roderigo, making him a pawn in his larger game for revenge against Othello. This is verbal barking, a metaphor, and also personification and is meant to tell the audience really how sinister Iago is.
2.1.109-112 Iago “Come on, come on. You are pictures out of door, bells in your parlors, wild-cats in your kitchens, saints in your injuries, devils being offended, players in your housewifery, and housewives in your beds.” Basically means that women are two faced and dishonest. This is a personification, metaphor, a false map, misogyny, labeling, and juxtaposition and is meant to demean and degrade women. This is one of the few real moments where people see the true Iago.
2.1.166-170 Iago “He takes her by the palm. Ay, well said, whisper! With as little a web as this will I ensnare as great a fly as Cassio. Ay, smile upon her, do, I will gyve thee in thine own courtship. You say true, ‘Tis so, indeed.” This is an aside by Iago basically meaning that Cassio’s manners towards women will be his downfall. This is a metaphor, personification, Dramatic irony and foreshadowing. This is meant to show how truly unaware Cassio is.
2.1.182-185 Othello “To see you here before me…” This quote basically means that Othello is pleased to see Desdemona. This is an example of a metaphor, personification, allusion to Olympus, and also foreshadowing. This is meant to show how true Othello’s love for Desdemona really is.
2.1.214-216 Iago “The lieutenant tonight…” This passage basically meant that Cassio is going to be manipulated even further. That he is on guard duty that evening. This creates a false map of Cassio and causes a stir. This is meant to show how easily manipulated Cassio can be and enhance/further the plot.
2.3.210-212 Iago “Touch me not so near…” This passage means that Iago would rather cut out his own tongue than say bad things about Cassio. This statement is full of irony, creates a false map, and shows hyperbole. It is meant to mislead Othello into thinking that Iago has his best interests at heart.
2.3.237-240 Othello “Thy honesty and love doth mince this matter,Making it light to Cassio. Cassio, I love theeBut never more be officer of mine.” This passage is basically Othello recognizing how honest a person Iago is and how he is probably downplaying events because he is fond of Cassio. Othello also strips Cassio of his reputation and rank in this scene. Saying that he will never again be one of his officers. This has some irony, alliteration, shows a false map, and displays the either-or fallacy.
2.3.247-249 Othello “Come, Desdemona, ’tis the soldiers’ lifeTo have their balmy slumbers waked with strife.” This passage means that it is the soldier’s life and duty to be woken up by such trouble that has been stirred up. This foreshadows more trouble and show’s Othello’s perception about soldiers. Plot.
3.1.24 Cassio “Keep up thy quillets,” means to not play games and is a pun, and contains dramatic irony. Plot. Cassio’s determination.
3.1.40 Cassio “I never knew a florentine more kind and honest.” Basically means that Cassio has never seen a nicer guy than Iago. This is Dramatic irony, a false map, foreshadowing, and shows the allness attitude. This enhances plot.
3.3.21 Desdemona “I give thee warrant of thy place.” This basically means that Desdemona promises Cassio Othello’s friendship. This is a false map, ironic, and foreshadowing. This enhances plot and shows how forgiving, powerful, unaware, and naive Desdemona is.
3.3.130 Iago “Men should be what they seem, or those that be not would the might seem none!” This means that people should be who they appear to be. A great example of dramatic irony because Iago is deceitful. This creates a false map.
3.3.157-189 Iago “Oh, beware, my lord, of jealousy!It is the green-eyed monster which doth mockThe meat it feeds on.” This means that jealousy is evil and shows a false map, as well as metaphor. This plants the seeds of jealousy and advances the plot.
3.1.205 Iago “I know our country disposition well” means that Iago knows Venetians well. This furthers plot and plants the seeds of doubt.
3.3.289 Othello “I have a pain upon my forehead here.” This passage means that Othello is getting a headache and is beginning to believe that Desdemona is cheating on him. This is an illusion and shows Othello believing in the false map. This furthers plot and shows how easily manipulated Othello can be.
Act 1 Introduces characters as well as their motivations. It reveals Othello and Desdemona as husband and wife, Iago and a spurned officer that seeks revenge on Othello and Cassio (The man that took the job Iago was a shoe in for). This act brings its audience of the complicated relationship between Brabantio and his fleeing daughter Desdemona as well as the “pathetic” Roderigo and his quest to obtain Desdemona’s love and affection.
Act 2 Act 2 brings the audience some action as Iago’s sinister nature becomes well known to them. He puts his plans in motion and Cassio gets drunk, wounds Montano, and loses his rank and good reputation.
Act 3 The third act brings the audience evidence of Cassio’s determination in his attempts to get his rank back from Desdemona. This also is when Iago works Othello and he begins to believe that Desdemona is cheating on him with Cassio.
Act 4 This act is when things begin to boil over as Othello shows signs of insanity when he is acting out of character. He is considering Desdemona a disloyal wife, taking the advice of “honest” Iago over that of his wife.
Act 5 The fifth and final act is when everything goes south. Othello kills Desdemona, Emilia outs Iago as a fraud, Iago kills his wife Emilia, Othello kills himself, Cassio is wounded but lives to become governor in Othello’s stead and to torture Iago as he sees fit.