[Othello Reading Guide] [January Calendar]


Act I, Scene i

  1. Why does Iago hate Othello?

  2. How does Brabantio find out about his daughter’s elopement?

  3. What descriptions does Iago use to make Brabantio angry?

Act I, Scene ii

  1. Who accuses Othello of witchcraft? Why?


Act I, Scene iii

  1. According to Othello, how did he and Desdemona fall in love?


  1. Where does the Duke send Othello?


  1. How does Iago persuade Roderigo that he hasn’t completely lost Desdemona?  What phrase does Iago use to “comfort” Roderigo at this point?

  2. What plan does Iago come up with for ruining Othello?

  3. What other reason does Iago give for revenge?

Act II, Scene i

  1. Does Iago really think that Cassio and Desdemona are lovers?

  2. What “proof” will Iago use against Cassio and Desdemona? 

Act II, Scene ii

  1. Why does Iago make sure Cassio gets drunk?

  2. Whom does Cassio wound?

  3. How does Iago “play both sides” when telling Othello what happened?

  4. How does Othello punish Cassio for his part in the fight?

  5. What does Iago say to persuade Cassio to go to Desdemona?

  6. How does Iago convince Roderigo not to go back to Venice?

Act III, Scene iii

  1. What are Cassio and Desdemona talking about when Othello arrives??

  2. Why does Cassio leave Desdemona quickly when Iago and Othello arrive?

  3. How does Iago raise suspicions about Desdemona in Othello’s mind?  Be specific.

  4. What effect does Iago’s repetition of “I see you’re moved” have on Othello?  What does this stage direction tell us about how Othello should be reacting to Iago’s speech?

  5. How does Iago end up with Desdemona’s handkerchief?

  6. Othello threatens to kill Iago.  What does Othello want from Iago to keep from killing him?  How does this, in a sense, seal Othello’s fate?

  7. Describe the  “proof” Iago gives Othello about Cassio at this point (“sleeping talk”)?  Is it concrete?  Explain.

Act III, Scene iv

  1. According to Othello, what are the origins of the lost handkerchief?  Do you think he is telling her the truth?  Explain.

  2. Describe what Emilia has to say about Othello being jealous?

Act IV, Scene i

  1. What does Iago say that causes Othello to fall into a trance?

  2. Why does Iago joke with Cassio about Bianca?  How is this furthering his plot?

  3. What did Cassio leave in Bianca’s chamber that has made her so angry?  Is Cassio “guilty?”  Explain.

  4. How does Iago suggest Othello should kill Desdemona?

  5. What does Othello do to Desdemona in front of the guests?

Act IV, Scene ii

  1. Why does Othello question Emilia?

  2. What names does Othello call Desdemona to her face?

  3. To whom does Desdemona go for advice about what to do about Othello’s accusations?  Why is this so ironic?  What type of irony is this?

  4. What does Roderigo agree to do for Iago?

Act IV, Scene iii

  1. What does Othello order Desdemona to do after dinner?

  2. Where did Desdemona learn the "Willow Song?"  What’s the song about?

  3. Summarize Emilia’s speech about husbands and wives?

Act V, Scene i

  1. How does Roderigo get wounded?

  2. How does Cassio get wounded? 

  3. How and why does Iago kill Roderigo?

Act V, Scene ii

  1. What does Othello do before he kills Desdemona?

  2. How does Othello kill Desdemona?

  3. What does Desdemona tell Emilia before she dies?

  4. How does Othello learn that his suspicions about Desdemona are wrong?

  5. What happens to Emilia?  Why is this ironic?

  6. What are Iago’s last words?  Explain their significance. 

  7. What does Cassio give Othello?  Why?

  8. How does Othello die?

  9. What will happen to Iago after the end of the play?