Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. To what extent does Othello’s final speech affect our assessment of him? What is the effect of his final anecdote about the Turk?
2. What role does incoherent language play in Othello? How does Othello’s language change over the course of the play? Pay particular attention to the handkerchief scene in Act III, scene iii, and Othello’s fit in Act IV, scene i.
3. Analyze Desdemona’s role. To what extent is she merely a passive victim of Othello’s brutality? How does her character change when she is not with Othello?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. Discuss the role that race plays in Shakespeare’s portrayal of Othello. How do the other characters react to Othello’s skin color or to the fact that he is a Moor? How does Othello see himself?
2. Discuss the importance of setting in the play, paying close attention to physical details that differentiate Venice from Cyprus and that define the particular character of each location as it pertains to the plot of the play.
3. Discuss the role of Emilia. How does her character change during the course of the play? Pay particular attention to moments when Emilia decides to be silent and when she decides to speak. What is the effect of her silence about the handkerchief? Do we forgive this silence when she insists on speaking in spite of Iago’s threats in the final scene?
4. Do a close reading of one of Iago’s soliloquies. Point to moments in the language where Iago most gains an audience’s sympathy and moments where he most repels it. Pay close attention to the way in which Iago develops arguments about what he must and/or will do. To what extent are these arguments convincing? If they are convincing and an audience’s perception of Iago is sympathetic, what happens to its perception of Othello?
5. Analyze one or more of the play’s bizarre comic scenes: the banter between Iago and Desdemona in Act II, scene i; the drinking song in Act II, scene iii; the clown scenes (Act III, scenes i and iv). How do these scenes echo, reflect, distort, or comment on the more serious matter of the play?
by Trolldemort, March 13, 2013
It is awethome cos they all die
39 out of 84 people found this helpful2
by IndustrialCarnage, April 02, 2013
This is perhaps one of Shakespeare's more interesting plays, if you will. In comparison to Macbeth it isn't quite the walk in the park.
I think conceptually it enables the reader to see that characters can influence characters to such a degree that the original traits are masked and changed. Tragedy in this play is definitely a main component - and a great emphasis that perhaps the villain doesn't always find their true defeat. In a way, wasn't the "villain" successful? He lied to everyone and pretty much killed whomever got in his way.
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