Othello Questions Essay
1. While Shakespeare presents the world of Venice as a place of civilization, is slow turns into a place of un-civilization and disputes. For example, Roderigo and Iago wake up Brabantio and tell him that there are thieves in his house. In reply, Brabantio says “This is Venice. My house is not a grange.” This shows how Venice is not usually a place with interrupting events. . Shakespeare also shows how Venice is slowing becoming corrupt. This is demonstrated when Desdemona elopes with Othello. Brabantio orders a search to get Othello. When Othello tells the Duke Brabantio accusation are false another search is put in place for Desdemona for questioning. Desdemona tells her dad that she is married to the Moor, Othello. Brabantio then disowns Desdemona, his daughter which is a sign of Venice becoming un-civilized. This is showing un-civilization because in Venice it is highly unlikely for a white women to marry a black man and for a women to disobey her father’s orders. Since Shakespeare does not go into much detail about Othello’s background, it seems as if his homeland is unimportant. Othello is referred to as a Moor which is a common name given to those who are from Africa.
2. Since Shakespeare starts the play with Roderigo and Iago, it to give the audience important information the plot. They both contribute to the exposition because they help the audience understand the situation through Iago’s and Roderigo’s point of view. Iago is a very intelligent, manipulative man and Roderigo is a foolish, gullible and stupid. Iago relationship with Roderigo is that he is just using him Roderigo is devastated to learn that Desdemona had eloped with Othello, so Iago uses this too his advantage. In act 1 scene 3 Roderigo says, “What should I do? / I confess it is my shame to be so fond, but it is not in my virtue to amend it.” This quote shows Roderigo talking to Iago about his love for Desdemona.
3. Since Iago expected to be promoted to lieutenant, and Michael Cassio got the spot instead, Iago plotted his revenge against both Cassio and Othello. Iago was close with Othello at the beginning and throughout the play continues to pretend to be friends with him but is not. This shows how Iago is not very trustful. The following quote expresses Iago’s angry towards the situation. “Off-capped to him, and by the faith of man I know my price, I am worth no worse a place. But he (as loving his own pride and purposes) Evades them with a bombast circumstance Horribly stuffed with epithets of war, And in conclusion Nonsuits my mediators. For ‘Certes,’ says he, ‘I have already chose my officer.’ And what was he? Forsooth, a great arithmetician, One Michael Cassio, a Florentine.” The following quote shows how upset Iago is with Michael Cassio getting the promotion, and this is the reason why Iago is angry with Othello.
4. Since Othello is a black man from an unidentified part of Northern Africa, he is seen as an outsider in Venice. He was once enslaved and has gone on many harsh battles and journeys in many parts of the world. Yet, Othello has a tendency to try and find the best in people and he trusts many until it is proven that he should no longer have faith in them. Othello is well known to be a good general due to his past experience in war and he is respectful towards people even when they are not respectful to him. This can be seen in the following quote when Brabantio is very rude and disrespectful to Othello but he responds saying, “Hold your hands, Both of you of my inclining and the rest…” This shows how he is raining calm in a very heated conversation. When Othello speaks and interacts with other characters he is respectful because he is an outsider and does not feel comfortable as he would in his homeland. By marrying Desdemona Othello is able to feel less like an outsider in the community in Venice and Cyprus.
5. Since Desdemona was sneaky about her love for Othello her father, Brabantio did not know about Othello and Desdemona seeing each other. Brabantio is awakened late at night by Roderigo and Iago yelling at him that there is a thief in his house who has stolen his daughter, Desdemona. Brabantio and Roderigo have a discussion about how the Moor and Desdemona are seeing each other. The following quote shows the conversation with Roderigo and Brabantio talking about Desdemona and the Moor. “Brabantio: Raise all my kindred. –Are they married think you? Roderigo: Truly, I think they are.” Act I Scene I Page 19 Lines 187-190. The quote shows how Roderigo is informing Brabantio that his daughter, Desdemona and Othello are married. Brabantio believes that the Moor casted a spell upon Desdemona in order for Desdemona to fall in love with Othello. This shows that at the time women were expected to love a man that her father would approve of.
The following quote is a conversation between Brabantio and Othello. The quotation shows how Brabantio believes Othello placed a spell upon Desdemona so that she would fall in love with him. “Damned as thou art, thou hast enchanted her!” Act I Scene II Page 25 Line 83. The quote shows how upset Brabantio is at Othello because Othello and Desdemona are together. The following quotation reveals how Desdemona and Brabantio react toward each other about the marriage. “Desdemona: I am hitherto your daughter. But here’s my husband…. Brabantio: God be with you! I have done.” Act I Scene III Page 41 Lines 213- 219. Brabantio could not accept the fact that Desdemona is in love with Othello. The quote shows how Brabantio tells Desdemona that he is disowning her and how he wants nothing to do with Desdemona anymore. It is important that Desdemona and her father separate at this time in the play because it allows Iago to put his plan of savage into action. Desdemona has no family anymore and now she is going to travel with Othello to a place of warfare. At this point in the play Desdemona is very vulnerable.
6. Othello’s and Desdemona’s understanding of their love and relationship are not equivalent to one another. Othello believes their love was founded upon his valiancy and torturous past. Desdemona feels that she fell for his sincerity and strength, thus intriguing her and gaining her love. When Othello must explain his love for Desdemona in the presence of her father and the Venetian council he explains he wooed her through his chivalrous stories and he loved her for her sympathy and aww, not because of qualities she possessed. He explained “My story being done, she gave me for my pains a world of sighs… she thanked me and bade me, if I had a friend that loved her, I should but teach him how to tell my story, and that would woo her. Upon this hint I spake. She loved me for the dangers I had passed, and I loved her that she did pity them” (Act 1. Sc. 3). He in the end loved her for stroking his ego and she loved him for his bravery and heart, though he lacked in humbleness. Othello and Desdemona do not share a reciprocated love for one another.
7. Because Iago and Othello are contrasting characters, their manners of speaking are very different. Othello’s character is very respectful to others. Even when he is being insulted, he remains calm. He is also very truthful and open with his words. On the other hand, Iago is duplicitous throughout Act 1. He often has double meanings behind his words. For example, he tells Brabantio, “An old black ram/ Is tupping your white ewe”. This is a crude way of telling Brabantio that Othello has married Desdemona. This shows the difference between the characters. It is also significant since Othello’s trusting nature is what Iago will use to betray him.
8. When the Duke of Venice tells Brabantio, “Your son in law is more fair than black.” this shows that not everyone in Venice shares Brabantio’s views on Othello. The Duke wants Brabantio to look beneath his son in laws skin and see that he is fair and deserves to be respected. He Senators and the Duke admire Othello and that is why the Duke defended Othello when Brabantio accused his of using “witchcraft” on Desdemona. The Duke then responded and gave Othello the compliment that he is “fair”. This word is troubling because it makes people think about Othello’s race and how he is different from everyone else. Even the color of his skin has not prevented him from achieving high rank in the Venetian society. These achievements have earned Othello respect from the people around him. By reading the play Othello you are able to depict the Venetian society in depth.
9. Since Brarbantio’s says to Othello “She has deceived her father, and may thee,” it shows how Desdemona might betray Othello. This is very important because later in the play Othello thinks that Desdemona does betray him. The play show that women are viewed in society as being loose, and untrust worthy. 10. Since Othello is more of an outside he would fit in with the Turkish society. It is very important that Othello protects Cyprus because it communicates to the audience that the Venetian and the religion is superior, showing that Othello has much power.
1. In Act 2 Shakespeare represents Cyprus as the land of partying and recklessness. This furthers the action of the play because it gives Iago a lead in his plan.Cyprus is described very highly by Othello in the following quote “How does my old acquaintance of this isle?—Honey, you shall be well desired in Cyprus, I have found great love amongst them. O my sweet…,” Shakespeare uses Cyprus because it’s the perfect place to help Iago get revenge on Othello without any suspicions being raised. In Cyprus everyone lets is excited that they do not have to fight in the war and have a lot of celebrations. This furthers the action because Iago gets Cassio drunk and Cassio’s lieutenancy gets stripped, the following quote shows Cassio upset that he got his lieutenancy taken away. “Reputation, reputation, Reputation! O, I have lost my reputation!” This builds suspense because the audience is starting to see how Iagos plan is slowly falling into place.
2. Since Cassio is handsome, trusting and brave he is a very unique character. He helped confort Desdemona when Othello was still at sea. The following quote showings how respectful, kind, and caring Cassio is to Desdemona, “Hail to thee, Lady and the grace of heaven… He is not yet arrived, nor know I aught but that he’s well and will be shortly here.” This quote shows Cassios respect towards Desdemona and him calming her down about Othello not being present.
3. Cassio is manipulated by Iago because Iago is planning to ruin Cassio so he can get the place as lieutenant. Iago learns about Cassio’s weaknesses and uses them against him. This includes his drinking problem, which led to Cassio getting fired by Othello. Also Cassio’s reputation for with women sets the basis for how Iago convinced Othello that Cassio was interested in Desdemona. Iago knows that by getting Othello to think Desdemona is cheating on him, that he will become extremely distraught. Iago uses Brabantio’s words to sway Othello’s thoughts throughout the text. In the beginning, Brabantio said “Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see: She has deceived her father, and may thee.” Which means, she deceived me and she will most likely do it to you too.
4. As the audience reads through Act II Iago’s plan begins to unfold. It is also revealed to the audience that Iago has a way of identifying other characters weaknesses and then manipulating these weaknesses to his advantage. As Iago begins to share his plans and ideas the audience receives more insight into the plot of the story and what Iago has in mind next. Iago deceives people by always making them believe that he is keeping their best interest in mind. By having the other characters believe that he is “honest Iago,” as the characters come to call him, he is then able to persuade them to believe something or do something else that will help Iago with his plan. Iago is revealed to be a sly character with only his own interests in mind. A quote from Othello when Iago is speaking falsely is, “I had rather have this tongue cut from my mouth/ Than it should do offense to Micheal Cassio.” (Othello, Verses 236-237) This quote shows the readers how Iago says one thing to other characters, when the audience knows that he wants to get rid of Micheal Cassio. Even though the audience knows that Iago is speaking falsely, the other characters in the play still have no suspicion about Iago’s plan of revenge. This dialogue is one way that we learn more about Iago in the second act.
5. Since Cassio and Iago are foils, the language they use to speak to others are very different. Cassio speaks more respectfully while Iago is rude and wit. For example the following quote shows how Cassio is speaking very highly and respectful when talking to Desdemona. “Hail to thee, lady, and the grace of heaven, before, behind thee, and on every hand Enwheel thee round.” (Act 2 Scene 1 Page 65 Lines 94-96) In contrast, Iago is very disrespectful to women especially to his wife, Emilia. The following quote shows Iago yelling at his wife to be quite. “Go to! Charm your tounge….What, are you mad? I charge you to get home.” (Act 5 Scene 2 Page 251 Lines 222 and 231) The quote shows how Iago’s dictions is far more ill-mannered in contrast to Cassio’s language.
1. In the beginning of Act 3, Scene 3 Othello is madly in love with Desdemona, but towards the end he becomes full of jealousy. Othello believes that Desdemona has had an affair with his once loyal lieutenant, Cassio. The reason he trust in such lies is because his good friend, Iago, has convinced Othello of Desdemona’s dishonesty. Iago persuades Othello by feeding him false grotesque images of Cassio and Desdemona and Gplants Desdemona’s handkerchief, a gift from Othello, in Cassio’s room. “I know not that; but such a handkerchief- / I am sure it was your wife’s – did today / See Cassio wipe his beard with” (Act 3, Sc. 3). What is most surprising is Othello, who quickly believes Iago’s statements. Othello, obviously not completely trusting Desdemona to be faithful, was most likely led to this paranoia after Desdemona’s father, Brabantio, planted the thought of her betraying Othello after Brabantio was betrayed by Desdemona himself. With this proof, Othello has no option but to believe Iago and his persuasive and duplicitous dialogue.
2. Emilia develops a close relationship with Desdemona. Emilia and Desdemona bond over husband trouble: Emilia’s bitter take on her married life with Iago contrasts with Desdemona’s marriage to Othello. Emilia is honest even though she caused the mess with Desdemona murder, but she redeems herself, or at least gives a good shot at trying. Emilia who discovers the truth about Iago’s plotting and tries to reveal it. Emilia’s relationship with Iago is not strong, and Iago uses Emilia as his tool. Iago has no ability to love someone or something. This quote is proof that her husband uses her, “The ills we do, their ills (husbands’) instruct us so?”(Act 3)
3. In the play Othello, Shakespeare uses a love token, Desdemona’s handkerchief to symbolize a relationship between two people. Othello gave Desdemona a handkerchief, as a gift that represented their marriage bond itself. One problem that the handkerchief causes is that it was handled by almost everyone in the play. The main thing the handkerchief symbolizes is Desdemona’s fidelity for Othello. When Cassio gets ahold of the handkerchief, Othello feels as though Desdemona has been unfaithful to him. When Desdemona is trying to ease Othello’s headache she drops her handkerchief. Emilia picks it up and gives it to Iago, her husband so she could get on his good side. “I am glad I have found this napkin. This was her first remembrance from the Moor. My wayward husband hath a hundred times wooed me to steal it. But she so loves the token.” (Act 3 Scene 3 Lines 334 to 337) Iago then tells Othello that Cassio has wiped his beard with Desdemona’s handkerchief and that’s when they decide to kill both Desdemona and Cassio. Desdemona continues to look for her lost handkerchief and when Othello asks for it, she gets even more nervous. With Desdemona’s handkerchief it made all of Iago’s plan to come togethe
1. The handkerchief of all things plays a key and important role in act four because it is what leads Othello to believe that Cassio has slept with Desdemona. “Handkerchief – confession- handkerchief – to confess and be hanged for his labor” (Act 4 Scene 1) this quote by Othello explains his thoughts towards Cassio and Desdemona seeing each other. Othello becomes very upset because the handkerchief was the first gift from Othello to Desdemona to represent his love for her.
2. Othello’s character is changing by in the beginning of the play Othello begins as a noble guy who is a respected war hero, and loving husband. Towards the end of the play Othello becomes violent and insanely jealous husband who murders his own wife after Iago convinces him that Desdemona has been unfaithful. The following quote shows Desdemona being slapped by Othello “Othello: I am glad to see you mad. Desdemona: Why, sweet Othello! Othello: [Striking her] Devil!” This shows how Othello slowly becomes less respectful towards Desdemona which is how his character is changing.
3. The effect when Othello slapped his wife Desdemona in public was that he was becoming an insane man and that he wasn’t fit to be the general anymore. Also the slap brought humiliation upon Othello because no one thought he would slap his wife that he was so loving and gentle towards. The following quote shows Lodovico speaking with Iago about Othellos behavior. “Is this the noble Moor whom our full senate Call all in all sufficient? Is this the nature Whom passion could not shake? Whose solid virtue The shot of accident nor dart of chance Could neither graze nor pierce?” When people saw this, they began to question Othello’s judgment. This reveals the change in character within Othello. He went from a loving, nice leader unto an angry, abusive man.
4. The contrasting characters; Desdemona and Emilia, form an interesting and important relationship in the play Othello. Desdemona is very ‘sheltered’ from the ways of the world and Emilia is very ‘down to earth’ and ‘experienced’. They have very different views on marriage Emilia states she would commit adultery if it gained her husband. The following quote shows their conversation. “Emilia: In troth, I think I should, and undo ’t when I had done. Marry, I would not do such a thing for a joint-ring, nor for measures of lawn, nor for gowns, petticoats, nor caps, nor any petty exhibition. But for the whole world? Why, who would not make her husband a cuckold to make him a monarch? I should venture purgatory for ’t. Desdemona: Beshrew me, if I would do such a wrong for the whole world” .Desdemona states that she is loyal to her husband. One thing that is similar about these marriages is the lack of trust and patience reveal the fragileness of the marriage. This scene shows the women’s private life and how they are not always the way the display themselves.
1. Othello kills Desdemona because he was convinced by Iago that she was cheating on him with Cassio. He doesn’t want to have to kill her because she is the love of his life, but Othello feels so betrayed, upset, and angry that he thinks it’s the best solution. The audience knows that Desdemona was always completely loyal to Othello and never had a relationship with Cassio. Othello thinks that he is solving the problem but really he is making a huge mistake. He is so distraught over having murdered her, that he kills himself as well. “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” The quote shows how he was struggling with choosing if he should kill her or not to.
2. After the death of Desdemona, Emilia begins to figure out Iago’s plan. Once Emilia is able to figure it while talking with, she begans to realize her husband’s true self. Before Iago was not very pleasant toward his wife, Emilia, but she never said anything about it because women were supposed to be obedient Emilia starts to speak out because she is upset of Desdemona’s murder. Emilia says, “Do thy worst.” To Othello as he pulls out his sword on her even though she is unarmed but he is mad because she is defying a man and that was not allowed during that time period. Women were expected to be compliant, which is shown to later when Emilia says, “I will not charm my tongue, I am bound to speak.” This quote shows how women were not supposed to give their input into things. Because Emilia finally stood up for herself and others, consequently she was killed by Iago.
3. Before Othello kills himself he gives a long speech about how he should be remembered. For example he wants to be remembered as a person who loves strongly but not wisely. After he stabs himself he kisses Desdemona because before he killed her he kissed her and wants to do the same for himself. The following quotation shows this. “I kissed thee ere I killed thee. No way but this, Killing myself, to die upon a kiss.” Act V Scene II Page 265 Lines 420-421. He does confess to killing Desdemona and regrets it greatly.
The Play as a whole
1. When Iago is describing his vengeful plan against Othello to his loyal companion, Roderigo, he explains that he is not what he will disguise himself to be. The quote “I am not what I am” (Act 1, Sc. 1) told by Iago could also apply to more than one of the characters. Desdemona, portrayed by her father as a timid and naïve child, is the one who betrays his trust by eloping with “The Moor”, Othello. “Your daughter, if you have not given her leave, / I say again, hath made a gross revolt, / Tying her duty, beauty, wit, and fortunes / In an extravagant and wheeling stranger” (Act 1, Sc. 1). Therefore, in the text, Iago is not the only character who pretends to be something they are not in order to trick someone else and disguise their underlying plans.
2. Since Iago destroyed Othello’s life very cruelly, it is likely that he had several motives for his deception. In the beginning, Iago states that he felt betrayed that Othello had promoted Cassio to the position he felt he deserved. This was probably a large factor of his deception, since Cassio was targeted for murder in Iago’s plot. Another motive was that there were rumors about Othello sleeping with Iago’s wife, Emilia. Iago also causes Desdemona’s death, saying, “Nothing can or shall content my soul / Till I am evened with him, wife for wife”. In the end, jealousy of Othello seems to be Iago’s motive. He is jealous of Cassio’s promotion, jealous of Othello’s beautiful wife and feels betrayed by Othello.
3. During this play Iago is able to manipulate Othello threw his weaknesses which are self doubt, his race and that he is madly in love with Desdemona. Iago uses all of the characters weaknesses to catapult their downfall. Mostly, he wants Othello to pay for what he did by making Cassio lieutenant and not him. From the beginning of the play, Iago proclaimed that he would make Othello pay by saying, “I am not what I am.” (Act 1 Scene 1 Line 71) Othello is prone to jealously is afraid that Desdemona will leave him for a Venetian man. This also plays into his race because he always feels like an outsider throughout the whole play. One reason Othello was manipulated so easily was because of all the “proof” Iago was giving him. When Iago was telling him this information, Othello should have gone to figure out if it was true; if Othello would have noticed Iago was being dishonest. Desdemona ended up paying for Othello gullibility when Othello smothered her with a pillow. Racial tension is heavy during the play because they really want to emphasize that Othello is an outsider and doesn’t belong in Venice. The only reason Othello has power is because he is the General, but even though he is the general he still is modest. When talking to the Duke in Act 1 Scene 3 he starts off explaining how he is a bad poet but then says this elaborate and long explanation about his and Desdemona’s love. From the beginning to the end Iago was able to manipulate everyone because they were all caught up in somebody or something else.
4. Since Emilia and Desdemona had different viewpoints on love, the play does not suggest whether or not Emilia or Desdemona is correct. Emilia and Iago’s relationship was not very loving, also Emilia said she would cheat on her husband which indirectly states she is not loyal to him. In contrast, Desdemona is very loyal and loving towards Othello, even after she was done wrong by him she was still loyal. This can be shown in the following quote when Desdemona is dying after Othello kills her “Desdemona: A guiltless death I die. Emilia: O, who hath done this deed? Desdemona: Nobody, I myself.” This shows how she still is remaining loyal to Othello by not saying that he killed her.
5. Othello’s heroic and military proficiency allow him partial acceptance into Venetian society. This acceptance is temporary because he doesn’t feel that he has been embraced by Venetian Society, he is both an insider and an outsider. On one hand, he is a Christian and experienced military leader, commanding respect from the Duke, and many Venetian citizens. On the other hand, being a black Moor and a foreigner in Venice also subjects Othello to some racism epically by Brabantio and Iago. The following quote shows Iago describing Othello and Desdemona’s relationship “Even now, now, very now, an old black ram ewe. Arise, arise; devil will make a grandsire of you. Is tupping your white Awake the snorting citizens with the bell, Arise I say!” The quote shows a racial slur toward Othello.
6. The addition of Bianca, causes her to be more of a women stereotype. Cassio does not mistreat his wife unlike Iago and Othello. Bianca is not seen as much throughout the play. On the other hand, Desdemona is a brave and beautiful woman who stood up to her father, and traveled with her husband. Desdemona and Othello have a very strong relationship at the beginning of the play. Othello starts out very respectful towards his wife, but slowly is rude to her. Emilia and Iago are married, but Iago does not respect Emilia and he treats her badly, he says “To have a foolish wife.” He does not have any respect for her. Iago says rude things to Emilia and all she does is try and please him. All three of the women have one thing in common, they all end up without a husband at the end of the play.
7. The play does reinforce racial stereotypes. For example, Othello is addressed as a moor, making it seem as though he isn’t at the same level as them in the social hierarchy. The following quote is an example of when Othello is referred to as the Moor. “Is this the noble Moor?” Even though he is called the noble Moor is he not address by name, which makes him seem more of an outsider.
8. I believe that we should admire Desdemona for her love. She did everything she could to make Othello happy. It is very unfortunate that Iago was able to manipulate Othello into thinking he had to kill her for something that she didn’t do. “I kiss’d thee ere I kill’d thee: no way but this; 359 Killing myself, to die upon a kiss.”
9. Shakespeare has placed a very small amount of action in the play and instead placed a large amount of dialogue. Shakespeare’s reasoning behind this use of dialogue is to affect the reader by allowing them to get to know the characters more. This allows the characters to be characterized by what they say and by what other characters say about them. The readers then go through and are preserved through the eyes of others, mostly Iago, and this allows Shakespeare to help and give certain information to the audience. Also, the reader learns a lot about the characters through dialogue and dialogue helps the reader to feel more involved in the play. When Iago says, “I am not what I am,” the audience is able to feel more involved and to get more information regarding Iago’s characterization than in other parts of the play.
10. Because Iago is trying to get revenge on Othello for not being promoted, the main theme of the text would be jealousy. Iago is jealous of Cassio that he got the promotion to become lieutenant. The following quote shows how Iago is upset that he was not promoted. “I know my price, I am worth no worse a place… say he, ‘I have already chose my officer.’ And what was he? Forsooth, a great arithmetician one Michael Cassio…” (Act 1 Scene 1 Page 7 Lines 12-21) The quote shows how jealous Iago is that Othello chose Michael Cassio to be lieutenant. Another way Othello by William Shakespeare, shows jealousy is when Othello kills his wife because he thinks that she is cheating on him. It seems that Desdemona is cheating on Othello with Cassio, but she is not. Sadly Othello does not know that it is Iago’s plan to get revenge on Othello. Consequently, Othello kills his own wife. The following quote shows when Othello confronts his wife about seeing Cassio, also the quote shows Othello killing his wife. “By heaven, I saw my handkerchief in ’s hand. O perjured woman, thou dost stone my heart, (Act 5 Scene 2 Page 241 Lines 77-78) ‘Twas I that killed her.” (Act 5 Scene 2 Page 247 Line 160) This quote shows how Othello was jealous that Desdemona was with other guys. Since the plot revolves around jealousy it is appropriate that the main theme in this text would be jealously.