Othello Acts 1-5

What is Iago’s complaint in scene 1? Michael Cassio is lieutenant and Iago believes he is a better soldier and more deserving than Cassio
Who is Brabantio, and why do Iago and Roderigo awaken him in the middle of the night? Brabantio is Desdemona’s father; he is “robbed” by a “dark” thief and Iago makes many animal references to Iago and Desdemona thus taking any beauty out of their relationship
Why does Iago leave Roderigo at Brabantio’s house? Iago must leave because he can’t appear to be nothing but loyal to Othello
What is Roderigo’s previous relationship with Brabantio and Desdemona? Roderigo courted and is in love with Desdemona, she rejected him and her father is annoyed by his continuing to court her and especially annoyed when awaken in the middle of the night by Roderigo
What is Brabantio’s reaction to Othello’s marriage to Desdemona? He is entirely enraged and believes his daughter must be under a spell or has been drugged to have decided to sneak off and marry the Moor
Why does the Duke send for Othello? the Turks are preparing to invade Cyprus, Othello and the troops must prepare the warships for departure
What danger is Cyprus facing? the Turks are preparing to invade Cyprus, critical to the trade and economy of Venice
Brabantio complains to the Duke about Othello’s marriage to Desdemona. After to listening to both sides of the story, what does the Duke say? The Duke admits his own daughter would be won over by the stories of Othello. The Duke admires Othello’s skill, nobility and bravery in battle and war affairs
What is Roderigo’s complaint, and what is Iago’s reply to it? Roderigo is a train-wreck. He is devastated and emotionally broken. He feels he has no chance for winning Desdemona at this point and he wants to kill himself. Iago has the attitude of “just get over it”. In his 28 years he has never seen a “love” worth dying for. Iago believes that Desdemona’s love for the Moor will fade and all that Roderigo has to do is be there for her when it happens. Iago supports Roderigo for this matter because he also hates the Moor.
Who is Othello, and why is he so respected by the Duke? Othello does not act like a stereotypical Moor or black man of Shakespeare’s times. The Duke respects his military accomplishments and trusts him more than any other as a General to protect the Venetians. The Duke admits that even hi own daughter could fall for his honest charms and he basically tells Brabantio that he doesn’t object it
What warning does Brabantio give Othello? Brabantio doesn’t like it, but he has to give Desdemona up to Othello. He reluctantly gives his jewel and he warns Othello that he better treasure her or else. He also warns him that since she betrayed her father, she is likely to betray him as well
Othello and Desdemona have just been married. Will they stay together or separate? they have just professed their love for each other in Act 1
What does Iago say must happen to Desdemona? She must have change. Her love for the Moor will fade. Iago advises Roderigo to make money and be ready for her change
Why does Iago hate the Moor? He hates him out of jealousy and the fact that he chose Cassio to become lieutenant and not him.
How would you grade Iago on racial insenstivity? Iago loves or is sensitive to no one.
Where does Act 2 begin? What is the situation at sea? Act 2 begins at a seaport in Cyprus. Terrible storms are at sea as the Venetian ships arrive
What has happened to the Turkish fleet? The Turkish fleet was separated and completely destroyed by the tempests at sea because they were not bayed and sheltered
Which ship from Venice arrives first? Michael Cassio’s
Which ship arrives second? Why is it surprising that it arrives before Othello’s? Iago’s, Othello’s ship and Cassio’s ship were travelling together but they got separated during the storm
What does the discussion between Desdemona and Emilia tell us about their relationship? Their exchanges reveal a girlish closeness. They are fond of each other
Who is Emilia? Iago’s wife and attendant to Desdemona
How does Cassio greet Desdemona and Emilia? Cassio greets the women with courtesy and he is happy that they have arrived safely
Why does Iago want Roderigo to anger Cassio? Iago wants Roderigo to engage Cassio into a fight. If Cassio appears to neglect his duties (assigned by Othello) it will contribute to losing favor in Othello’s eyes
What is the purpose of Iago’s plan? His plan is to topple Othello, by winning Othello’s favor and trust. His first plan of actionis to use Roderigo as a pawn to lure Cassio into doing something rash, thus losing favor with Othello. As Cassio loses favor with Othello; Iago gains his support
What evidence is Iago using to rationalize his plan? Is his evidence solid? He finds the selection not only unjustified, but completely incomprehensible. Because he cannot be trusted, Iagotrusts no one, not even his own wife. He also suspects that both Othello and Cassio were lecherous with his wife. He is absolutely incapable of trust and entirely paranoid. He assumes everyone is as manipulative and deceitful as he is. Iago has no solid evidence; it is pure speculation and psychological instability on his part
What keeps Roderigo from seeing the truth instead of Iago’s lies? Roderigo wants to believe Iago’s lies because he desperately wants them to be true.
What emotion seems to be governing Iago’s thoughts and actions? Pure and utter jealousy and hated consume Iago’s thoughts.
How does Iago see Desdemona, and how does Cassio see Desdemona? Iago sees Desdemona simply as a tool to use for Othello’s destruction. Because the Moor loves her, he too, would “love” to use her for Othello’s destructionCassio and Desdemona have been friends for some time. They care deeply for each other, however, not romantically. Cassio, out of friendship for Desdemona, and out of loyalty to Othello, shows deepconcern for her safety and well-being. It is possible for others to mistake his friendship and courtesy for Desdemona for romantic love
Why does Iago want Cassio to drink more wine? Iago want Cassio to drink more wine to cloud his judgment; under the influence of alcohol, Cassio, like others, will act rashly
What is the outcome of Cassio’s drinking? Cassio was easily provoked into an argument with Roderigo, and then Montano. Before Othelloarrived, Montano was gravely wounded by Cassio
What lie does Iago tell Montano about Cassio? Iago tells Montano (aside) that Cassio is a good soldier but his vice is his love for alcohol. He artfully twists his statement to emphasize that fact that Cassio is a drunkard but urging Montano to not think he is too much of a drunk to be a great soldier and “unworthy of his place”. He then continues by saying he sadly must dink all the time
Why does Othello strip Cassio of his rank? Conduct unbecoming an officer. Othello directly told Cassio notto drink too much and to keep order. Cassio, carefully manipulated by Iago, did drink too much and chaos ensued. Cassio and Roderigo fight only to be broken up by Montano and thus their fight ensues.Othello enters to break up the fight between Montano and Cassio who are both injured.
Why does Iago want Cassio to ask Desdemona for help in restoring Othello’s faith in Cassio? By asking Desdemona to intercede with Othello to aide Cassio, it may appear to others that her motives for helping him are less than pure and out of friendship only
How does Iago get back in Othello’s good graces? After the fighting in the streets, carefully and secretly orchestrated by Iago, Iago artfully shows reluctance to “betray” his comrade, Cassio by revealing the “truth” of the events. After several urgings from Othello, he explains the “truth’ to Othello. His feigned reluctance, wins Othello’sloyalty
What is Roderigo’s complaint, and how does Iago answer it? Roderigo complains that his money is almost spent and he wishes to return defeated to Venice. Iago tellshim to be patient he has yet to reap the “fruits” of his labor. Cassio is undone. Iago continues by telling him to go and get some rest; he will feel better later
Why does Cassio bring musicians? What is Othello’s response to them? Cassio asks the musicians to play something short, but pleasant to greet and say “good morning” tothe General. Othello sends the musicians away; he does not want to hear the music.
What does Emilia tell Cassio that Desdemona is already doing for him? Emilia tells Cassio that Desdemona is already speaking to Othello on his behalf. Cassio asks Emilia to briefly speak with Desdemona alone. She agrees
What responses do Iago and Othello have to seeing Cassio leave Desdemona? Iago sparks Othello’s suspicion of Cassio and his wife being alone together by saying “Ha! I like not that.” When Othello questions whether it was in fact Cassio, Iago further arouses his suspicion by saying, ” No, sure, I cannot think it, that he would steal away so guilty-like, seeing you coming.”
How successfully does Desdemona plead for Cassio? What is Othello’s response to Desdemona as she leaves? Desdemona’s pleas on Cassio’s behalf are not successful because Iago has aroused Othello’s suspicions about Desdemona and Cassio’s relationship. She repeatedly asks Othello to reconcile withCassio to the point of begging which only makes his suspicion grow
Why doesn’t Iago simply tell Othello right away that Desdemona and Cassio are having an affair? If Othello comes to the conclusion that his wifeis not faithful “own his own” his feelings will be stronger and more indestructible. Iago also has not has time to support his suspicions with more “evidence.” His convoluted and artfully wicked plan needs time to be fully developed.
Othello’s love for Desdemona is solid as can be seen through line 93 of Act 3, Scene 3. ( p.5 Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul, /But I do love thee! and when I love thee not, /Chaos is come again.) Why does he become a man in “misery” by his next speech (3.3.190/p10). What has moved him fromlove to jealousy? When alone, Othello and Iago discuss relationships and commitment. While discussing, Iago’s reluctance to answer cultivate Othello’s growing doubts. By not responding Othello thinks Iago knows something but is afraid to be the “bearer of bad news.” He also warns Othello of the perils ofjealousy.
How can anyone provide proof of fidelity? Student responses will vary based on personal experiences. Fidelity is difficult to prove; in contrast, infidelity has hard evidence and is easy to prove
What thing does Emilia find and give to Iago? What does Iago intend to do with it? Emilia finds Desdemona’s handkerchief (given to her by Othello). The handkerchief has special meaning to both Othello and Desdemona because it once belonged to Othello’s mother. Iago plans to plant it with Cassio. Emilia is completely unaware of Iago’s devious plan
What is Iago’s reply when Othello demanded proof of his wife’s disloyalty? Again, Iago feigns reluctance to assist Othello in such a grave matter. His reluctance makes Othello’s passion and suspicion grow
What does Othello decide and command at the end of Scene 3? Othello makes Iago his lieutenant and commands him to kill Cassio
How likely is it that Othello will keep an open mind until he has seen real proof? How much have Iago’s suggestions about Desdemona’s “nature” worked on Othello? Iago carefully and very subtly leads Othello to believe that Desdemona’s trust and loyalty may be in question. The artfulness and manipulation is unmatched in its wickedness. His suggestions have worked havoc on Othello’s emotionally state and Othello’s suspicion has reached its height
Is there any chance of his changing his mind or of Desdemona’s convincing him of her innocence after this speech? There is little, if no chance, of Desdemona convincing Othello of her faithfulness in Othello’semotional state. At this point in the plot, Othello’s state of mind may be so emotionally wrought, that even the producing of proof (the handkerchief) may not be enough to sway him from his belief that shehas been unfaithful
What is Emilia’s relationship with Iago? Desdemona? Emilia is Iago’s wife and attendant to Desdemona. Her relationship with Iago is not strong becauseIago, like his interactions with the other characters, truly loves no one but uses them for his own gain. He only shows interest in her when she brings him the handkerchief, and his interest is not in her as much as in the handkerchief. Emilia is more than an attendant to Desdemona, she is a confidant and a friend. She would not knowingly do something to harm Desdemona, and as the importance of thehandkerchief is reveal her anxiety, guilt and feelings of betrayal grow. It is then when she realizes her husband, Iago, used her in his devious plan
What, according to Othello, is the history of the handkerchief (3.4.53-73)? Is Othello telling the truth here?What else might he be doing? Othello explains that the handkerchief is a family heirloom given to him by his mother. It is possible that the history of the handkerchief is embellished by his passion and emotional state as he describes its “powers” and importance. What he really wants to know is if Desdemona has been unfaithful.
What does the argument in 3.4.75-95 (between Othello & Desdemona) show about both Othello and Desdemona? For Othello, the argument reveals that he has been completely captured in Iago’s web of destruction.Because Desdemona cannot produce the handkerchief (proof) Othello’s rage and jealousy intensify. Desdemona’s confusion is revealed when she is faced with an accusation that appears to “come out ofnowhere.” Because she is confused, she simply does not know how to respond to such an accusation, and her only defense is to change the subject, to buy her time to find the handkerchief. Unfortunately, in her attempts to change the subject, her subject is Cassio and her efforts only appear to make her even more suspect in Othello’s eyes, clouded by Iago’s intricate plan. She really has no defensebecause she cannot convincingly prove her loyalty and fidelity to Othello
What is Emilia’s view of men (3.4.99-102)? How justified is she? Emilia has a cynical view of men, cultivated by her own relationship with her husband, Iago. It is compound when she realizes that he used her to get the handkerchief. She feels tht men do not truly love women they only use them and toss them away when they are no longer useful
Who is Bianca? What is her relationship to Cassio? What does he ask her to do? What is her emotional response? Sound familiar? How does Cassio get the handkerchief? Bianca is Cassio’s girlfriend. Because she has not seen him in over a week, she is suspicious of his whereabouts. Cassio gives Bianca the handkerchief, and asks her to hold on to it for him. Her suspicion causes her to question him about where he got the handkerchief, and she mistakenly assumes he got it from a new girlfriend. He assures her that he found it in his room, and only wants to have one like it for her. He then asks her to leave because he is waiting to talk with Othello
Who had the handkerchief at the end of Act 3? Why? Bianca has the handkerchief at the end of Act III because Cassio gave it to her to hold.
After Iago lied and told Othello that Cassio confessed going to bed with Desdemona, what advice does hegive the overwhelmed Othello? Iago asks Othello to hide in the shadows while he talks “privately” with Cassio and gets him to confess his affair with Desdemona
What happens to Othello in Scene 1? How does Iago respond? Othello suffers an epileptic seizure. Iago responds with the coldness and lack of sympathy consistent with his villainous character.
How does Iago trick Othello into thinking Cassio is gloating and bragging about his affair with Desdemona? Iago engages Cassio in a conversation where it appears that they are discussing Desdemona; when infact, they are discussing Bianca. Othello listens hidden from Cassio, but Othello knows he is there. Iago orchestrates his deception and manipulation of Cassio for Othello.
Why is Bianca angry with Cassio? Bianca believes the handkerchief Cassio gave her belongs to the “other woman.”
How does Bianca’s return with the handkerchief help Iago? Her return with the handkerchief not only confirms that it is Desdemona’s handkerchief, but the fact that Cassio had it at one time.
Why does Othello hit Desdemona? The message Lodovico brings instructs Othello to return to Venice and names Cassio governor ofCyprus. When Desdemona expresses that she is glad about the news, Othello strikes her in anger. Desdemona’s joy is in the fact that they will return home; Othello mistakes her joy for Cassio’s appointment.
Who is Lodovico, and why has he come to Venice? Lodovico is Desdemona’s cousin. He has arrived from Venice to deliver a message to Othello for his return to Venice.
What is Lodovico’s reaction to Othello’s behavior towards Desdemona? How does Iago later explain Othello’s behavior to Lodovico? Lodovico is shocked by Othello’s behavior and questions whether he is sane. He is surprised because he had respected Othello as a virtuous and noble man. Iago explains his behavior by saying he has changed, and again is reluctant to give his opinion because it is not his “respectful place.” Heencourages Lodovico to observe Othello’s behavior and draw his own conclusion.
Why does Othello ask Emilia about Cassio’s affair with Desdemona, and what is her reply? Othello asks Emilia, who is closest to Desdemona, to find out is she knows anything. Although she can say nothing to convince Othello of Desdemona’s innocence, Othello wants to know the extent to which others know. Emilia passionately defends Desdemona, but cannot convince him
How correctly does Othello identify his weakness in Scene 2? Othello believes he was a fool to believe Desdemona loved him and was faithful to him. He mistakenly evaluates her character, when in fact, she has been nothing but loyal to him.
To whom does Desdemona turn for help after Othello calls her a strumpet (Act IV.ii.p5)? Iago
Why does Iago tell Roderigo to kill Cassio? Why does Roderigo consent to think about it? Iago has promised Othello that he will kill Cassio. If Iago can get Roderigo to do his dirty work forhim, Iago’s hands remain clean and he is innocent of the crime. Since Othello and Desdemona are fighting, it may be true that her love for the Moor is fading and Roderigo thinks that he may be able to get Desdemona with Cassio out of the picture.
If Roderigo kills Cassio, what promise has Iago taken care of? By Roderigo’s killing of Cassio, Iago keeps his promise to Othello
Give Scene 3, between Desdemona and Emilia; is it at all possible that Desdemona could ever be unfaithful to Othello? Desdemona senses something awry and sings a “willow song” about forsaken love and death. This prompts Desdemona to ask Emilia if there really are women who deceive their husbands, and Emilia replies that there are no doubt some such women. Desdemona asks Emilia if she would betray her husband to which Emilia responds that she wouldn’t for trivial gain but would to make him a king.Desdemona insists she would never betray Othello.
What is the effect of the “Willow Song” and the interruptions to it? After Othello leaves, Desdemona says that she has been preoccupied with a “willow” song about hermother’s maid “who was in love; and he she loved proved mad / And did forsake her.” Desdemona sings this song which foreshadows her death. The song then prompts Desdemona to ask Emilia if thereare men who abuse women and Emilia replies “there be some such, no question” which is ironicbecause Emilia is not aware that Iago is abusing her
How would Iago gain from Roderigo’s death? Cassio’s? Iago continues to use Roderigo as a pawn in his intricate plan. He eventually kills Roderigo, andblames him for Cassio’s attack. Iago gains from Roderigo’s death because he will not have to repay him for all the jewels and money he has taken from in to woo Desdemona, in Roderigo’s name. Cassio death would keep Iago’s promise to Othello
What happens when Roderigo attacks Cassio? Who actually wounds Cassio? Roderigo misses when he attacks Cassio. Iago, from behind, wounds Cassio, and eventually kills Roderigo.
What does Othello assume has happened? Is he correct? Othello assumes Iago has kept his promise and Cassio is dead. Cassio is seriously wounded, but not dead.
After Bianca appears, what new part of his plot does Iago begin in Scene 1, starting at line 107? When Bianca arrives, Iago draws her into suspicion for the attack on Cassio. Because her reputation is in question, it is possible that others would believe she would do such an evil act
Who will get the blame for the attack on Cassio if Iago has his way? Both, or either, Roderigo and/ or Bianca will be blamed for the attack on Cassio.
What justification does Othello try to give for the murder of Desdemona in Scene 2? Othello justifies the murder of Desdemona by claiming to serve mankind. In the name of justice, she will not be able to ruin other good and noble men
How does Othello kill Desdemona? What interruption occurs while he is doing it? Othello smothers Desdemona but is interrupted by Emilia. Emilia goes to Desdemona; but, it is too late she dies.
Whom does Desdemona blame for her death? Does Emilia believe her? Desdemona blames herself for her death; but, Emilia does not believe her. Othello calls her a liar and admits it was he who killed her. When Othello goes on to say that Iago knew of her unfaithfulness all along, Iago’s insidious plot becomes clear to Emilia
How is Desdemona faithful to Othello to the end? Desdemona remains faithful to her end, by saying she caused her own death
What happens when Iago tells his wife not to speak and to go home, orders which good Renaissance wives should follow without question? Iago repeatedly orders Emilia to go home. Out of love for Desdemona, and out of truth, she refuses. Eventually, to quiet her, Iago kills her
What is Emilia’s reaction when Othello tells her that Iago has revealed Desdemona’s affair with Cassio tohim? Emilia is the first to realize Iago is to blame for the murder, especially when Othello mentions the handkerchief. She also feels some responsibility because she is the one who gave the handkerchief toIago. Emilia is horrified by the wickedness and vehemently defends Desdemona. She wants all to know the truth. She defies her husband’s orders to leave, and starts to reveal the truth to all
What is Othello finally beginning to realize at 5. 2.205? What has happened to Desdemona’s father? Othello is beginning to realize he has been deceived and has made a grave mistake. Desdemona’s father has died.
Why does Othello attack Iago? Emilia’s persistence, especially her defiance of her husband and to her death, make Othello realize he has been deceived. Overwhelmed with guilt and grief, he attacks Iago out of anger and revenge
What is Othello’s reaction to having his sword taken away? When Othello’s first sword is taken, he claims to have another in the chamber. He uses the second sword to attack Iago.
How does Othello use the second sword his finds in the room? Othello uses the second sword in his room to attack Iago
How do Roderigo’s pockets conveniently help to clarify much of what has happened? Lodovico makes known Roderigo’s letters found to explain his attempt to kill Cassio, his discontentwith Iago, and his reproach of Iago for making him incite Cassio to a quarrel earlier in the play. The letters begin to unveil Iago’s malignancy.
What happens to Othello, Iago and Cassio in the end? Cassio, although wounded, will recover and is named governor of Cyprus. Othello regrets having thrown “a pearl away / Richer than all his tribe.” This metaphor compares Desdemona to a valuable precious stone that thrown away out of unawareness of its value and merit. Othello takes his own life with a hidden knife, and falls on the bed beside Desdemona. Iago’s wickedness is made apparent toall, and his fate is left tobe enforced by the new governor of Cyprus, Cassio. Lodovico directly addresses Iago as a “Spartan dog;” a suitable name for “this hellish villain” who has completely destroyed all goodness around him with his own malice
Who gets Othello’s estate? Why? Gratiano, Desdemona’s uncle, gets Othello’s estate as restitution for Desdemona’s death caused by the Moor
Protagonist Othello
Antagonist Iago
Foils of Othello Cassio, Iago
Othello Moor, greatest army general in Venice, married to Desdemona- produces racial slurs against him, noble when he leads an army against Turks on Cyprus
Iago military officer that schemes against Othello because he didn’t promote him, evil
Desdemona daughter of Brabantio, wife of Othello and victim of Iago’s machinations and Othello’s jealousy, noblest and most unselfish character in the play
Michael Cassio Othello’s lieutenant, got promoted by Othello, promotion aroused Iago’s jealousy and his alleged love affair with Desdemona sparked Othello’s jealousy
Duke of Venice favors Othello when the argument about Othello’s and Desdemona’s marriage breaks out between Othello and Brabantio
Brabantio senator and father of Desdemona, racism is inflamed by Iago and despises Othello
Gratiano Brabantio’s brother (Desdemona’s uncle)
Lodovico Desdemona’s cousin, bears a message from the duke recalling Othello to Venice
Roderigo venetian gentleman and former suitor of Desdemona, manipulated by Iago
Montano Othello’s predecessor in the government of Cyprus
Clown servant to Othello
Emilia wife of Iago, blind to his evil until she discovers that he plots against Othello and Desdemona
Bianca Cassio’s mistress