Othello Study Guide Questions

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Act I
Scene i
1.Describe the sensory details of the opening scene: sights, sounds, smells, etc. The opening scene takes place during the night in a street in Venice. Iago and Roderigo are loudly conversing with each other. 2.Why do Iago and Roderigo wake up Brabantio? Why is Brabantio angry? Why does Iago slip quietly away once Brabantio comes down? Iago and Roderigo wake up Brabantio to spoil his happiness by telling him the Desdemona ran off with Othello. Brabantio is originally angry because he had told them not to come around him house, but is even more angry when he finds out that Desdemona is missing. Iago quietly slips away because he doesn’t want anybody to know that he isn’t loyal to Othello. 3.Explain the relationship between Iago and Roderigo. Who seems to be ‘in control’. Explain your first reaction to each of these characters. Iago is paid to help Roderigo win Desdemona’s hand in marriage, and both of them seem angry and unkind. The main difference is that Iago appears to be in charge and the mastermind behind everything while Roderigo is his puppet who carries the plan out. 4.Explain why Iago says he needs to get revenge on Othello. Do you think he is justified? Why is the need for revenge so powerful, and for that matter, such a popular topic of modern music/movies? Iago wants to get revenge on Othello because he gave the lieutenant position to Michael Cassio, a less experienced man. He has a right to be upset, but he shouldn’t get revenge on Othello. Revenge (in books and movies) is often motivation the antagonist and a main element on why characters do what they do. 5.How does Iago act when Desdemona’s father appears at the window? Why does it take so long for Brabantio to figure out what is going on? Why doesn’t Iago just tell him what happened straight out? Iago acts very mysterious and hides in the darkness to conceal his identity. It takes Brabantio a while to figure out what is going on because Iago isn’t clear about it. Iago wants to agitate Brabantio before he tells him about Desdemona so he will be angrier.

Scene ii
1.How does Iago lie at the beginning of this scene?
Iago went to Othello and acted loyal and nice towards him.
2.Is Othello afraid of Brabantio? Should he be?
Othello is not afraid of Brabantio and doesn’t have to be because he believes that his good qualities and his status in society will protect him. 3.What do you learn about Othello’s background from this scene? How do you learn that information? Othello grew up in many battles, was a slave, and had a very difficult life. We find this out when Othello talks about how he and Desdemona fell in love. 4.Why has the Duke called for Othello? How can you tell that Othello is highly regarded in military circles? The Duke has called for Othello to come to Cyprus for the war. We can tell that Othello is highly regarded in military circles when Cassio said that the senate had sent out 3 search parties to find Othello. 5.Why is Brabantio so against having Othello for a son-in-law? Does he seem to blame his daughter for running off with this man? Would he feel differently if Desi had run off with another man? Brabantio is against having Othello for a son-in-law because of how different he is. He believes that Othello used magic and trickery to get Desdemona to marry him. He probably would feel differently is Desdemona had run off with a different man. Scene iii

1.How does Desdemona respond when Brabantio confronts her? What other approach to the problem could she have taken? Desdemona tells Brabantio that even though she respects him for everything he’s done for her, her loyalty lies with her husband, Othello. She could have told him in private or in the form of a letter. 2.How does the Duke seem to feel about the problem of Desi and Othello? Who do you think he sympathizes with? The Duke feels that Desdemona and Othello love each other, so there is no use in being upset or resentful. He...
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