Othello Act 4 Study Guide

What does Iago say about Bianca in scene 1, lines 110-116? “Now will I question Cassio of Bianca,/A huswife that by selling her desires/Buys herself bread and (clothes.) It is a creature/That dotes on Cassio – as ’tis the strumpet’s plague/To beguile many and be beguiled by one./He, when he hears of her, cannot restrain/From the excess of laughter. Here he comes.” (IVi110-116). —saying this to himselfAnswer: Iago, calling Bianca a prostitute, describes her as a woman who is ready to sell herself (her body) in order to make a living, but is also smitten with Cassio, as they share a ‘relationship’. Due to her occupation, Iago goes even further to say that she is cursed, because her purpose is to entice many men, but she will only fall for one, the one being Cassio. However, because she is a prostitute, Cassio most likely does not render the same feelings for her, so when Cassio comes over and Iago holds a conversation about Bianca’s pursuit of him, his reaction, although will be laughing, will not be for Desdemona (as Othello will seem to think so) but towards the foolishness of the conversation in which Iago has placed him in, by saying that Bianca is his love. Therefore, Iago will use this to his advantage in order to trick Othello (will purposefully joke with Cassio, in order to use his reactions as evidence for his love of Desdemona).
Why does Cassio think it is funny when Iago suggests he marry Bianca? Cite a quote. Answer: Cassio thinks it is funny when Iago suggests he marry Bianca, because he will only ever view her for what she is, a prostitute, causing him to not develop any meaningful feelings towards her. Therefore, he says that he is not stupid enough (or naive) to fall in love with a woman of such low reputation, as anyone in their right mind would not think to do that. He is questioning how stupid Iago thinks he really is (Iago does not think highly of Cassio, and this is showing through their conversation, but Cassio does not realize it). Quote: “I marry her! What? A customer? Prithee bear some charity to my wit. Do not think it so wholesome. Ha, ha, ha!” (lines 138-140).
What is Iago’s plan for Desdemona and Cassio? Answer: Iago, instead of letting Othello poison his wife, advises him to strangle her in the same bed in which she has proved her infidelity. Meanwhile, he will take it upon himself to kill Cassio. As a result, his plan consists of both of their deaths, in order to remove any obstacles in his way of Othello’s ultimate downfall.
What news does Lodovico bring? Lodovico brings news from the Duke (and the senators) of Venice, as they want Othello to go back home and appoint Cassio governor in his place (this serves to greatly anger Othello, as he feels that Cassio has already betrayed him, and he is further betraying him by taking his position).
Why does Othello slap Desdemona? Answer: When Lodovico tells Desdemona of them replacing Othello with Cassio for the position as governor, Desdemona responds by saying that she is elated to hear such great news. However, Othello perceives the situation differently, causing him to get enraged, as he thinks Desdemona’s positive reaction is a show of affection or love towards Cassio. Othello thinks that Desdemona is admitting her love for Cassio by favoring him, and because he is in such disbelief upon her actions of accepting such a thing, he is prompted to slap her.
Summarize Othello’s speech in scene 2, lines 57-74? “Had it pleased heaven/To try me with affliction, had they rained/All kind of sores and shames on my bare head,/Steeped me in poverty to the very lips,/Given to captivity me and my utmost hopes,/I should have found in some place of my soul/A drop of patience. But alas, to make me/ (A) fixed figure for the time of scorn/To point his slow (unmoving) finger at – /Yet could I bear that too, well, very well./But there where I have garnered up my heart,/Where either I must live or bear no life,/The fountain from which my current runs/Or else dries up – to be discarded thence,/Or keep it as a cistern for foul toads/To knot and gender in – turn they complexion there,/Patience, thou young and rose-lipped cherubin,/Ay, there look grim as hell.” (IVii57-74). —saying it to DesdemonaAnswer: Othello is describing his anguish, saying that is nothing is worse than his own wife cheating on him, because he would have been able to tolerate any other horrible conditions, even if it may be the world’s greatest affliction, whether it be deep poverty or slavery. He would have found the patience to accept such decisions, and even if he were to be humiliated, he could put up with the disgrace of his reputation too. However, his wife has rejected him by cheating (defining herself with other men), and because this is a horrifying act, it cannot be dealt with patience.
Why is Roderigo upset with Iago? Cite two quotes. Answer: Roderigo is upset with Iago, because he believes he is not being treated fairly, as he is always trying to put him off with some sort of reasoning or excuse. He feels cheated, suddenly realizing that nothing was ever in his favor and he was only being led by Iago, as he listened to him too fervently. Feeling used, as he has been giving up his wealth, while not seeing any success in his plan. “‘Very well,’ ‘go to’! I cannot go to, a man, nor ’tis not very well. Nay, I think it is scurvy, and begin to find myself fopped in it”. “Every day thou daff’st me with some device, Iago, and rather, as it seems to me now, keep’st from me all conveniency than suppliest me with the least advantage of hope”.
How does Iago convince Roderigo to assist in killing Cassio? Answer: Iago convinces Roderigo to assist him in killing Cassio by telling him that he thinks highly of him, while also proving his own worth, by telling him how much he’s done for him. Further, he describes him as smart and courageous, while then going on to tell him his plan, in which he will be able to attain Desdemona as soon as possible.
In the beginning of scene 3, what unusual commands does Othello give Desdemona? Answer: He tells her to go to bed and to send Emilia away.
What does Emilia talk about at the end of the act? Answer: She is telling Desdemona that there are women out there who do cheat on their husbands, and is telling her that she would do it, if it would make her husband a king. She also thinks that it’s the husbands’ faults if wives do cheat on them, because the mean may start cheating on the women, or they may get jealous, hit them, or take away their money. She is trying to make Desdemona think that although they may forgive their husbands, they are human beings with feelings too (particularly of revenge). She is questioning why husbands would ever cheat on their wives, and if women cheat, it is for the same reasons as men. Therefore, they should treat their wives well, or the wives will get back at them with their own bad practices (of cheating mostly).

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