Othello Act 1-3 Study Guide

What is Iago’s complaint in Scene I? -Michael Cassio was named lieutenant. Iago believes he is a better soldier and moredeserving, than Cassio (the “book smart” warrior) (All talk and no action) -Iago has been passed over for a promotion. Cassio got the promotion to Lieutenant even though Iago had more time in serviceas a soldier. Cassio got the promotion over Iago because his learning included theory and strategy whereas Iago’s did not
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 Othello because he “stole” Desdemona and married her —Iago (hidden and playing on Brabantio’s prejudices) makes many “animal” references to Iago & Desdemona thus taking any beauty out of their relationship: “an old black ram is tupping your white ewe:” “you’ll have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse; you’ll have your nephews neigh to you;” “your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs”
Why does Iago leave Roderigo at Brabantio’s house? Iago must leave and has remained hidden because he cannot appear to be against the Moor. He must 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 he father is annoyed by hiscontinuing 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? Brabantio is entirely enraged about the mixed marriage and believes his daughter must be under some “spell” or has been drugged to have decided to sneak off and marry the Moor (such an animal). He gathers his kinsmen and goes in search of Othello to her rescue. He goes to “let loose the justice of the State.”
Why does the Duke send for Othello? The Duke sends for Othello (the General) because 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 listening to both sides of the story, what is the Duke’s reply? The Duke admits his own daughter would be won by the valiant stories of Othello. “I think this tale would win my daughter too.” (Act I.iii.-p8) The Duke admires Othello’s skill, nobility and bravery in battle and war affairs. He thinks that Brabantio will just have to make the best of the situation
What is Roderigo’s complaint, and what is Iago’s reply to it? -Roderigo was love sick and depressed, seeing no hope for his winning Desdemona now that she is married to Othello. Iago tells him to use his reason, to hold back his passion( that they should “be conjunctive in (their) revenge against him (Othello).”-Roderigo is a train-wreck. He is devastated and emotionally broken. He feels he has no chance for winning Desdemona at this point and wants to kill himself. Iago’s attitude is “just get over it.” In his 28 years he has never seen a “love” worth dying for and has “never found man that knew how to love himself.” “Ere I say I would drown myself for the love of a Guinea-hen, I would change my humanity with a baboon.” (Act I.iii.p13). “Man UP!” “It is merely a lust of blood and a permission of the will. Come, be a man: drown thyself! Drown cats and blind puppies.” (ActI.iii.p14) Furthermore, Desdemona’s love for the Moor will fade; be there and you will win her. Iago also agrees to support Roderigo in this matter because he, too, 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 his own daughter could fall for his honest charms and he further goes on to say to Brabantio, “If virtue no delighted beauty lack, your son-in-law is far more fair than black.” (Act I.iii.p12)
What warning does Brabantio give to Othello? -“Come hither, Moor: / I here do give thee that with all my heart/ Which, but thou hast already, with all my heart/ I would keep from thee.—For your sake, jewel,/ I am glad at soul I have no other child;/ For thy escape would teach me tyranny, / to hang clogs on them.—I have done, my lord. (Act I.iii.p8). Brabantio does not like it, but must give his daughter to the Moor. Because he reluctantly gives his “jewel” the implication is a warning to treasure the jewel as he has or “else”. [“hang clogs” literally block, obstruction—but also—literally a weight attached to restrict an animals movement.-Brabantio also warns him to beware because she has deceived her father – she is very likely to deceive him as well. “Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see: / She has deceiv’d her father, and may thee.” (Act I.iii.p12).
Othello and Desdemona have just been married. Will they stay together or separate? Othello and Desdemona both strongly profess their love for each other in Act I. Responses, however, will vary based on students’ prior and personal experiences and knowledge.
What does Iago say must happen to Desdemona? She must have change. She will grow tired of him and want a younger man. Her love for the Moor will fade. She will realize she made a mistake and leave Othello. “It cannot be that Desdemona should long continue her love for the Moor,” “…These Moors are changeable in their wills…” “When she is sated with his body, she will find the error of her choice.” Iago advises Roderigo to make money and be ready for her to change.
Why does Iago “hate the Moor”? What does he plan to do? Iago hates the Moor mostly out of jealousy and the fact than he has not chosen Iago as his lieutenant. He plans to turn Othello against his lieutenant, Cassio, by making him think Cassio and Desdemona are together. He would not waste his time on such a sniveling “snipe” (fool) as Roderigo if he could not use him as a pawn for his own profit. In his final soliloquy of Act I, Iago professes his hatred for the Moor and further expresses his suspicions about the Moor’s infidelity with his wife. He articulates his contrived plan to topple the great Othello by turning him against his trusted lieutenant, Cassio. Iago confidently feels that Othello, who readily trusts Cassio, “can be easily lead by the nose” into believing that Cassio is too close to Desdemona, thus making the Moor, completely jealousy and furious with Cassio. This will open the door for Iago to be the most trusted “man” in Othello’s eyes.
How would you grade Iago on racial insensitivity? It is quite apparent and clear by the end of Act I that Iago is completely insensitive. He not only lacks racial sensitivity, but sensitivity for all humanity. Iago loves or is sensitive to no one.
Where are we as Act 2 begins? What is the situation at sea? Act II 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 shelters. “News, lads! Our wars are done. The desperate tempest hath so bang’d the Turks/ That their designment halts” (Act II.i.p2).
Which ship from Venice arrives first? Michael Cassio’s ship arrives first.
Which ship arrives second? Why is it surprising that it arrives before Othello’s? Iago’s ship arrives second. Othello’s ship and Cassio’s ship were traveling together but became separated during the storms.
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? Emilia is Iago’s wife and attendant to Desdemona.
How does Cassio greet Desdemona and Emilia? Cassio greets the women with great courtesy and he is happy that they have arrived safely.
Why does Iago want Roderigo to anger Cassio? -Iago told Roderigo that if he can show Cassio as being undisciplined, he can cause “these Cyprus to mutiny” and have Cassio relieved of his duty. This will allow Roderigo a better chance of getting Desdemona, since Othello and Desdemona will have to stay longer until a replacement for Cassio can be found-Iago wants Roderigo to engage Cassio into a fight. If Cassio appears to neglect his duties (assigned by Othello) it will contribute to his losing favor in Othello’s eyes.
What is the purpose of Iago’s plan? -By encouraging and using Roderigo( Iago will “put the Moor/at least into a jealousy so strong that judgement cannot cure.” Iago will ruin Othello’s relationship with Desdemona as a means of revenge for Othello’s promoting Cassio instead of himself (Iago)-Ultimately, his plan is to topple Othello, by winning Othello’s favor and trust. His first plan of action is 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? Iago feels cheated by the selection of the “book-smart” Cassio’s selection as lieutenant. He finds the selection not only unjustified, but completely incomprehensible. Because he cannot be trusted, Iago trusts 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 is easily manipulated by Iago because of his lovesickness for Desdemona. Iago simply usesRoderigo’s weaknesses against him. “Now, my sick fool Roderigo, / Whom love hath turn’d almostwrong side out.” (Act II.iii.p3) Roderigo wants to believe Iago’s lies because he desperately wantsthem 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 destruction. “That Cassio loves her, I do well believe it; /That she loves him, ’tis apt, and of great credit: /The Moor,–howbeit that I endure him not, — /Is of a constant, loving, noble nature; /And, I dare think, he’ll prove to Desdemona/ A most dearhusband. Now, I do love her too; /Not out of absolute lust,–though, peradventure, /I standaccountant for as great a sin,- /But partly led to diet my revenge” (Act II.i.p14-Cassio 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 deep concern 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? -He wanted Cassio to be a little drunk and argumentative when Roderigo would approach him later-Iago want Cassio to drink more wine to cloud his judgment; under the influence of alcohol, Cassio,like others, will act rashly. “If I can fasten but one cup upon him,/ With that which he hath drunktonight already,/ He’ll be as full of quarrels and offense/ as my young mistress’ dog.” (Act II.iii.p3)
What is the outcome of Cassio’s drinking? Cassio was easily provoked into an argument with Roderigo, and then Montano. Before Othello arrived, Montano was gravely wounded by Cassio.
What lie does Iago tell Montano about Cassio? -He told Montano that Cassio was drunk every night. He also casted doubt on Othello’s judgment for appointing Cassio, who might be drunk in a moment of crisis.-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. “You see this fellow that is gone before; — /He is a soldier fit to stand by Caesar/ And give direction: and do but see his vice; /’Tis to his virtue a just equinox, /The one as long as the other: ’tis pity of him. /I fear the trust Othello puts him in, /On some odd time of his infirmity, /Will shake this island.” “‘Tis evermore the prologue to his sleep.” (ActII.iii.p5)
Why does Othello strip Cassio of his rank? Othello strips Cassio of his rank for conduct unbecoming an officer. Othello thought Cassio was irresponsible and dishonorable. Othello directly told Cassio not to 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? -If Desdemona would take up Cassio’s cause, it would appear as though she would favor him. That would advance Iago’s plot to make Othello jealous beyond reason-By asking Desdemona to intercede with Othello to aide Cassio, it may appear to others that hermotives for helping him are less than pure and out of friendship only. This assumption by otherssupports Iago’s wicked plan to manipulate Othello’s feelings of jealousy and trust. Earlier in the play, Iago planned to use Desdemona as a tool for Othello’s destruction.
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’s loyalty. Iago says, “I had rather have this tongue cut from my mouth/ Than it should do offence to Michael Cassio; /Yet, I persuade myself, to speak the truth.” Iago then relates the event of the night, to which Othello replies, “I know, Iago, / Thy honesty and love doth mince this matter, / Making it light to Cassio. Cassio, I love thee; / But never more be officer of mine.” (Act II.iii.p11)
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 tells him 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 notthat.” When Othello questions whether it was in fact Cassio, Iago further arouses his suspicion bysaying, ” No, sure, I cannot think it, that he would steal away so guilty-like, seeing you coming.”(Act III.iii.p3).
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 Otello’s suspicions about Desdemona and Cassio’s relationship. She repeatedly asks Othello to reconcile with Cassio to the point of begging which only makes his suspicion grow. Othello responds by saying he loved her and when he stopped loving her the world will be in chaos like it used to be “Why then to-morrow night; or Tuesday morn; /On Tuesday noon, or night; on Wednesday morn: — /I pr’ythee, name the time; but let it not /Exceed three days: in faith, he’s penitent;” Upon her departure Othello replies, “Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul, /But I do love thee! And when I love thee not, /Chaos is come again.”(Act III.iii.p4)
Why doesn’t Iago simply tell Othello right away that Desdemona and Cassio are having an affair? By being reluctant to tell Othello his thoughts and making Othello drag the information out of him, Iago did lend credibility to his tale and did hold Othello’s friendship. Iago carefully cultivates Othello’s growing suspicion. If Othello comes to the conclusion that his wife is 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 from love 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 of jealousy. “O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; /It is the green-ey’d monster which doth mock /The meat it feeds on: that cuckold lives in bliss/ Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger; /But O, what damned minutes tells he o’er /Who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves!” (Act III.iii.p9).
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? -She gave him the handkerchief Desdemona had dropped, Othello’s first gift to Desdemona. Iago wanted to plant it in Cassio’s possession to show Othello that Desdemona had given it as a favor to Cassio.-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. “I am glad I have found this napkin; /This was her first remembrance from the Moor. /My wayward husband hath ahundred times /Woo’d me to steal it; but she so loves the token,– /For he conjur’d her she shouldever keep it,– /That she reserves it evermore about her /To kiss and talk to. I’ll have the work ta’en out, /And give’t Iago: /What he will do with it heaven knows, not I; /I nothing but to please hisfantasy.” (Act III.iii.p14).
What is Iago’s reply when Othello demanded proof of his wife’s disloyalty? -He lied, telling Othello that Cassio had a dream in which he cried out to Desdemona, saying “Let us be wary, let us hide our loves” and “Cursed fated that gave thee to the Moor!” Then Iago told Othello that he saw Cassio with Desdemona’s handkerchief.-Again, Iago feigns reluctance to assist Othello in such a grave matter. His reluctance makes Othello’s passion and suspicion grow. “I do not like the office; /But, sith I am enter’d in this cause so far,– /Prick’d to it by foolish honesty and love,– /I will go on. I lay with Cassio lately; /And, beingtroubled with a raging tooth, I could not sleep. /There are a kind of men so loose of soul, /That intheir sleeps will mutter their affairs: One of this kind is Cassio: /In sleep I heard him say, “Sweet Desdemona, /Let us be wary, let us hide our loves”; And then, sir, would he gripe and wring my hand, /Cry, “O sweet creature!” and then kiss me hard, /As if he pluck’d up kisses by the roots, That grew upon my lips: then laid his leg /Over my thigh, and sigh’d and kiss’d; and then /Cried, “Cursed fate that gave thee to the Moor!” (Act III.iii.p19) After he piques Othello’s suspicions once again, he says a dream is not hard poof; it is simply a dream. He then mentions the handkerchief. “Nay, but be wise: yet we see nothing done; She may be honest yet. Tell me but this,– /Have you not sometimes seen a handkerchief /Spotted with strawberries in your wife’s hand?” “…but such a handkerchief,– /I am sure it was your wife’s,–did I today /See Cassio wipe his beard with.” (Act III.iii.p20)
What does Othello decide and command at the end of Scene 3? -Iago was to have Cassio killed within three days. Othello would kill Desdemona himself. Iago was promoted to Lieutenant-Othello makes Iago his lieutenant and commands him to kill Cassio. “I greet thy love, /Not with vainthanks, but with acceptance bounteous, /And will upon the instant put thee to’t: /Within these threedays let me hear thee say /That Cassio’s not alive.” “…Damn her, lewd minx! O, damn her! /Come, go with me apart; I will withdraw /To furnish me with some swift means of death /For the fair devil. Now art thou my lieutenant.” (Act III.iii.p22)
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 afterthis 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, thateven the producing of proof (the handkerchief) may not be enough to sway him from his belief that she has been unfaithful.
What is Emilia’s relationship with Iago? Desdemona? -Emilia was Iago’s wife. She did things out of love for him. Emilia was a servant to Desdemona but also had affection and friendship for her. In Act III, Emilia was still more loyal to Iago than to Desdemona, she did not tell Desdemona about the handkerchief-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 asmuch as in the handkerchief. Emilia is more than an attendant to Desdemona, she is a confidant and afriend. 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? 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 was given to his mother by an Egyptian witch. The Egyptian told his mother as long as she kept with her Othello’s father would love and desire her, but if she lost it he would start hating her and look at other women. When she was dying she gave it to me and told me to give it to my wife when I got married. I did. So pay attention. Treat it as something precious. Losing it or giving it away would be an unspeakable loss, a loss like none other. There’s magic in its fabric. A two-hundred-year-old witch sewed it while she was in a fevered trance. The silk came from sacred silkworms, and it was dyed with fluid made from embalmed virgins’ hearts. 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.”That handkerchief Did an Egyptian to my mother give; /She was a charmer, and could almost read /The thoughts of people: she told her, while she kept it, /’Twould make her amiable and subdue my father /Entirely to her love; but if she lost it /Or made a gift of it, my father’s eye /Should hold her loathed, and his spirits should hunt /After new fancies: she, dying, gave it me; /And bid me, when my fate would have me wive, /To give it her. I did so: and take heed on’t; /Make it a darling like your precious eye; /To lose’t or give’t away were such perdition /As nothing else could match.” “…’Tis true: there’s magic in the web of it: /A sibyl, that had number’d in the world /The sun to course two hundred compasses, /In her prophetic fury sew’d the work; /The worms were hallow’d that did breed the silk; /And it was dy’d in mummy which the skillful /Conserv’d of maiden’s hearts.” (Act III.iv.p4).
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 of nowhere.” 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 defense because she cannot convincingly prove her loyalty and fidelity to Othello
What is Emilia’s view of men? 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. “‘Tis not a year or two shows us a man: /They are all but stomachs and we all but food: /They eat us hungerly, and when they are full, /They belch us” (Act III.iv.p7).
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 hiswhereabouts. 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? -Cassio gave it to Bianca, his prostitute friend, for her to take out the design.-Bianca has the handkerchief at the end of Act III because Cassio gave it to her to hold.

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