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?