Othello Flashcards Preview

IOC Discussion Questions > Othello > Flashcards

Flashcards in Othello Deck (16)
Loading flashcards...

To what extent do you feel the writer is trying to persuade you to think about an issue or idea in a particular way?

You can't believe everything you're told
- "The Moor's mind has already become infected with my poisonous suggestions."
- 'Iago is extremely honest and good' and 'knows a lot about human behaviour'.
Self doubt can lead to insanity
- Kills his wife beaches of self doubt 'Maybe because Im black... or because Im getting old... '
Handles issues and morality that is still important today.


What sort of techniques does the writer use to get you interested in the story and the characters? Do you think they are successful?

- Makes us interested in Iago without having a character arc/ development by giving him soliloquies.
- A chance for the audience to see into his mind, and he's given interesting, oxymoronic lines like 'divinity of hell'
- They are successful, audience becomes intrigued because they can't figure him out.


Choose one part of the novel that you found particularly challenging, exciting or moving. What do you think prompted that response?

When Emilia discovers Desdemona dead.
- Repeats a lot 'My husband' 'Lies' 'Villainy'
- Realises that she has played a vital role in the tragedy.
- Lies with and speaks to her dead mistress.


How does the author explore the attitudes and emotions of the central character(s)?

Soliloquies and Monologues.
- Othello's hawk metaphor- proves he's not evil, just warped by Iago.
- Iago's show he thinks he's better than everyone else 'thus do I make my fool my purse'


In what ways does the author use foreshadowing?

- Act 1 'She loved me for the dangers I had passed, And I loved her that she did pity them'
- In the context of the scene, this is a beautiful, romantic story. But it also foreshadows the trouble to come by highlighting that Othello and Desdemona's relationship is based on their differences and Othello's exotic background.
- Later, under the manipulations of Iago, Othello will assume it is exactly these qualities Desdemona loved - his age and experience, foreign origin, and dark skin - that have led her to cheat on him.

Foreshadowing is particularly prominent before the death scene.
- Barbary the maid.
- The Willow song. 'That will not go from her mind'

All of this creates poignancy, and plays on the fact that the audience already knows the play will end in tragedy.


What do you consider to be pivotal to the structure of the plot?

A3 S3
- This mammoth scene encapsulates Othello's fall from rational husband to crazed revenge seeker.
- Begins confident of Desdemona - 'she had eyes and chose me'
- Then says 'sometimes nature wrongs itself', and Desdemona will eventually return to her senses and want someone else.
- Iago plays on his insecurities.
- Tells him of Cassio's dream. "Cursed fate that gave thee to the Moor!"
- Othello spirals to such a point that he calls her a 'lewd minx' and vows to have revenge.
- From here he gets progressively more animalistic and savage.
- More like Iago.


Who do you think is the most significant character?

- Othello, obviously title character, and the protagonist who ultimately brings about his own downfall.
- Yet this would not have taken place if it weren't for Iago.
- Not as much time is spent developing his character, he is a 'motiveless malignity'. But it is his plotting that causes the play to happen.
- a puppeteer and influencer.
- Iago is the CENTER of the action in the play. If you think about it, Iago is the only character who has significant scenes with ALL of the other central characters: Othello, Desdemona, Emilia, Casio, and Roderigo. All of the major plot points in "Othello" revolve around Iago.

- Even if it can be argued that he's not the most significant character, he's certainly the most interesting and complex.
- Hates Cassio because he is 'ignorant and ill suited'
- Hates Othello because he promoted Cassio, and because 'It is thought abroad that 'twixt my sheets (he) has done my office.
- Also suggested that Iago is in love with Othello 'I am your own for ever.' A3 S3.
- But really his anger and jealousy are hard to pin down, giving him no real motive.


Who do you think is the most significant minor character?

- Emilia is important in the handkerchief stealing debacle, which she steals to 'please' her husband's 'fantasy'.
- She is also one of only 3 women in the play, and provides a contrast to nice, chaste Desdemona. She is something of a feminist, as well as providing very mature view like 'who would not make her husband a cuckold to make him a monarch?'. Shows how good Desdemona really is to Othello.
- Emilia and Iago's relationship is a foil to Othello and Desdemona's, but they end in the same way.


What do you think is the most significant theme?

- Displayed by Othello due to Iago's manipulations.
- The reason Iago chooses to hurt Othello by making him jealous is that Iago is consumed by jealousy himself.
- Shakespeare also proves that jealousy is inherently unreasonable, as it is founded on the psychological issues of the jealous person, not on the behavior of the one who prompts the jealous feelings.
- 'It is thought abroad, that 'twixt my sheets
'Has done my office. I know not if 't be true,
But I, for mere suspicion in that kind,
Will do as if for surety.'


What do you think is the most significant symbol?

The Handkerchief
- for Othello, the handkerchief symbolizes Desdemona's fidelity.
- When it shows up in Cassio's possession, Othello is convinced that Desdemona is unfaithful.
- Colour Imagery: The white napkin, as we know, is spotted with red strawberries, and Othello tells Desdemona that the strawberries were hand stitched with thread that has been dyed with blood from "maidens' hearts" or, virgins' blood.
- In this way, the handkerchief resembles a white wedding sheet that's also been stained with a virgin's blood.
- So, in Othello's mind, as long as Desdemona has the handkerchief in her possession, she's chaste. But the moment she "loses it," she loses her chastity.
- The handkerchief also seems to function as a symbol of Othello's mysterious past and his "exoticness." He tells Desdemona that an Egyptian "charmer" gave it to his mother and that it would keep his father under her spell. - - That such a small object has such enormous weight in the play testifies to the sensitivity of jealous minds, and the way that small incidents can be magnified psychologically into "proofs" of love or betrayal.


What do you think is the most significant motif?

Animals and Monsters
- Iago describes Othello as a “Barbary horse,” and an “old black ram,” and also tells Brabantio that his daughter and Othello are “making the beast with two backs”.
- Racist sentiment, sees him as subhuman.
- As Othello sinks deeper into jealousy, this imagery becomes increasingly focused on monsters and devils.
- says theres is 'some monster in (his) thought', and calls to the devil before he kills himself.
- The imagery of the monstrous and diabolical takes over where the imagery of animals can go no further, presenting the jealousy-crazed characters not simply as brutish, but as grotesque, deformed, and demonic.


Do you think the writer is particularly sympathetic towards one of the characters? What makes you think that?

- She is actually written as a very strong character. Described by Othello as a 'fair warrior'
- Feminist and progressive viewpoint. Strong-minded.
- Scene before her death with Emilia.
Builds poignancy with the willow song (Willows at the edge of water are a traditional symbol of women deserted by their lovers) and the story of Barbary the maid- 'my eyes itch, doth that bode weeping'.
- She comes off as very brave, as she believes she is about to die. Audience builds empathy with her.

- Makes the audience even angrier at the violence and murders, because they know that this is all pointless. That's shakespeare's motive.


How well do you think the writer manages to use the stage to establish a strong sense of setting?

- The stage is not the main aspect of the setting for this, or the majority of Shakespeare's works.
- Were performed in many venues, so had to be flexible.
- Setting is established precariously, and realistically this play could be set anywhere in the EMP.
- However it is the connotations of Venice and Cyprus which are important.
- Venice- promiscuous, white.
- Cyprus- Island of love. Everything goes to Hell. Desdemona removed from help. EVERYONE removed from sense.


What is your opinion about the closure in the last section of the play? Do you find it satisfying or frustrating?

- By the end, Othello says he "loved" Desdemona "too well" (too much), which suggests that he doesn't really understand the implications of his actions.
- Othello also seems pretty preoccupied with the way people will think of him after his death.
- On the one hand, he wants to be remembered as a soldier who "has done the state some service" and who has killed a lot of Venice's enemies.
- Yet he also seems to think that strangling Desdemona is a crime against the Venetian state—Othello compares himself to a "turban'd Turk" (Venice's sworn enemy), which he emphasizes when he kills himself with the very same sword he used when he "smote" the "malignant" Turk on the battlefield.
- By this point, Othello sees himself as a savage outsider (like a "Turk" or a "base Indian"), which is what characters like Brabantio have been calling him all along. In other words, Othello seems to have internalized the racist ideas that he has encountered in Venice.
- It also seems like Shakespeare is asking us to consider whether or not this is the inevitable outcome when a society tells a man over and over again that he's a "savage."
- This is almost the last thing to happen, and this makes it an unsatisfying conclusion.
- The good characters are killed, and although Iago's now in trouble, its not really enough when he's done so much.
- There is no chance for Iago to reveal why he really made this all happen.


What do you feel is the central conflict in the play? How important are the underlying reasons for the conflict?

- The central conflict to Othello's marriage and happiness is Iago.
- Calls Brabantio up.
- Manipulates Othello.
- The underlying reasons for the conflict are important- Iago's own jealousy. Irony, bittersweet.


How clearly is the writer able to convey a meaningful idea while keeping an audience entertained?

- This is mainly a very serious play, whose issues transcend time. However, it is kept entertaining by various comedic interludes, particularly those of Roderigo.
- His unrequited love, complaints and stupidity are all reason enough for Iago to call him a 'fool'.