Autumn iRevise Online Tutorial Series 31st of August to 5th of December

Othello, Revision Notes


Summary Act I 4

Scene 1 4

Scene 2 4

Scene 3 5

Summary Act 2 7

Scene 1 7

Scene 2 8

Scene 3 8

Summary Act 3 10

Scene 1 10

Scene 2 11

Scene 3 11

Scene 4 13

Summary Act 4 14

Scene 1 14

Scene 2 16

Scene 3 18

Summary Act 5 19

Scene 1 19

Scene 2 20

Analysis of Characters 23

Othello 23

Iago 25

Desdemona 27

Michael Cassio 29

Emilia 29

Roderigo 30

Bianca 30

Brabantio 30

Duke of Venice 31

Montano 31

Lodovico 31

Graziano 31

Clown 31

Themes, Motifs & Symbols 33

Themes 33

The Incompatibility of Military Heroism & Love 33

The Danger of Isolation 35

Appearance and Reality 36

Jealousy 37

Prejudice 38

Motifs 40

Sight and Blindness 40

Plants 41

Animals 42

Hell, Demons, and Monsters 43

Symbols 45

The Handkerchief 45

The Song “Willow” 46

Location 46

Tension/Climax/Resolution 47

Literary Genre 48

Context 49

General Vision and Viewpoint 51

Study Question 52

Summary Act I

Scene 1

The play Othello is set in Venice and in the opening scene we are introduced to two arguing figures – Roderigo and Iago. The wealthy Roderigo hired Iago to help him win the love of Desdemona, but has been making no progress at all. We discover that he has just found out that Desdemona has married Othello, a general whom Iago serves as ensign. Iago reveals that he hates Othello for many reasons, the chief among them being that he passed over Iago for a promotion. The position of lieutenant was instead awarded to Michael Cassio, who had no previous experience in leading men. Iago is only pretending to serve Othello, so that he might be in the perfect position should an opportunity to serve his own self-interest arise.

Iago, a manipulative character who delights in his villainy, convinces Roderigo to alert Desdemona’s father of the wedding. Her father is a Venetian senator by the name of Brabantio. The two men go to stand under his window and call out to him that he has been robbed by “thieves”. Brabantio appears and is furious with them for disturbing the peace. He initially refuses to believe them. He assumes Roderigo is merely scheming to see Desdemona, and t...

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