In preparation for the discussion of Act I, you should consider the following elements in the text of Othello; I would highly recommend that you take notes on these points, as well; I have done my best to limit the list to only the most salient matters of the text, though with Shakespeare these is always more to say.
Act I, Scene i
What conflicts are established?
– There is an issue with the moor, Iago would not be allowed a promotion in the army under the command of the moor.
– There is an issue with the Brabantio and “The Moor”, Roderigo explains to Brabantio that the moor is having sex with his daughter.
What are Iago’s motivations for malice?
– The promotion for the army was not given by Othello and was instead iven to someone who was entitled to it.
How do Iago and Roderigo provoke Brabantio in Act I, scene i?
– Lago and Roderigo provoke Brabantio by telling him moor had sex with his daughter and do this by telling him to look inside of his daughter’s bedroom.
What information do we learn about Othello in this scene?
– We learn that Othello is the military leader in all of Venice.
What are Iago’s attitudes toward service?
– According there are two types of attitudes toward service 1. Those who live to work and only take care of those they are serving 2. Those who work to live and take care of themselves.
Consider how an actor might “play” Iago’s speech on service. What tone might suit this speech? What elements suggest this tone?
– The tone that would suit his speech about attitude on service would be like: expressive with lots of emotion. Some of the elements which may suggest this include:
What imagery is prevalent in this scene?
– When Iago is talking about service, he talks about “knee crooking slaves” as well as “I will wear my heart upon my sleeve”
What do we come to realize about the character of Iago?
– Lago is someone with a lot of traits that resemble someone with morals.
How are Iago and Roderigo dissimilar in their characters?
– Lago is someone who has a lot of morals and traits that encompass the actions that he makes and Roderigo is dissimilar because he does not have the same Morals that encompass his actions.
Act I, Scene ii
How is Iago different in this scene?
How does Iago describe himself?
What does Iago tell Othello about the occurrences of Act I, scene i?
How does Othello react to the information Iago provides him?
How is Othello unlike the Othello represented in I, i?
Why is Othello so confident?
What does Iago say to Cassio about Othello’s recent marriage? Does he sound more like the scene i Iago or the scene ii Iago here?
How does Othello avert conflict in this scene? What impression does Othello’s conduct in this scene leave on you as a reader?
Recap: describe Othello’s character as it is presented in this scene.
Act I, Scene iii
How is the idea of truth and duplicity presented at the outset of Scene iii?
Contrast how Othello and Brabantio are received by the Duke.
How is the response to Brabantio’s accusation of Othello (“We are very sorry for’t”) ambivalent?
What does Brabantio believe Othello has done to gain control over his daughter Desdemona?
How is Othello’s “nobility” established in this scene?
How does Othello present himself and how does the reader interpret what he says?
How does Othello respond to the First Senator’s question (l. 110)?
Do a close analysis of the elements of Othello’s speech from ll. 127-169.
What does Desdemona say about duty?
Consider the tone and diction of Desdemona’s speech at ll. 245-256.
What reasons does Othello give for bringing Desdemona to Cyprus? What does this speech suggest about Othello’s understanding of himself?
What warning does Brabantio make to Othello?
What do Roderigo and Iago discuss at the end of the scene?
How do these characters oppose? Which do you as a reader prefer?
What is Iago’s view of love?
What does Iago say about willpower?
Do a careful analysis of the elements rhetorical and thematic of Iago’s soliloquy in this scene.
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