Othello Lesson Plan for Characters

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Othello Lesson Plan
You have 5 minutes to think of a word for each letter of the alphabet associated with the character
Main task
Divide the class into five groups. 1 tables for Othello, 2 for Iago, 1 for Desdemona and 1 for Emilia. Ask
students what Iago's punishment was for his role in the story. Have a student re-read Lodovico's
closing lines from the play. Ask students why Shakespeare did not write about Iago's fate. Tell them
that it's just as well, because they are now the ones in charge of his fate. Iago is in jail and the other 3
characters have made it back from death to act as witnesses. Think about character motives and the
result of these. You will have the 30 minutes to do this. In the next 5 minutes students will make up a
jury to decide his fate and the teacher will act as a judge.
Fill in this sheet (full-size version included at the end of the booklet)
Read and keep hold of these character profiles. They will be helpful for your exam.
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Character Profiles
A black man from North Africa, Othello has travelled the world, been sold into slavery, escaped, and
ended up as the military commander of the Venetian military, guard to a powerful Italian city-state.
Othello's status in Venice is pretty complicated ­ he's both an insider and an outsider. On the one hand,
he is a Christian and experienced military leader, commanding respect and admiration from the Duke,
the Senate, and many Venetian citizens.…read more

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Desdemona have the exaggerated character of adolescent emotion; despite their
maturity in other respects, the couple are naive about love.
Dramatically, the playwright is interested in the way such jealousy can reduce nobility to bestiality:
Othello, at the start of the play, ennobled by his exemplary service and invigorated by love, is a
paragon of Renaissance humanity, dignified, wise and eloquent; jealousy reduces him to raving
savagery, his angelic poetry to an incoherent snarl.…read more

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And little blessed with the soft phrase of peace" (I.iii.81­82). While Othello is never rude
in his speech, he does allow his eloquence to suffer as he is put under increasing strain by Iago's plots.
In the final moments of the play, Othello regains his composure and, once again, seduces both his
onstage and offstage audiences with his words. The speech that precedes his suicide is a tale that
could woo almost anyone.…read more

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As we know, several characters (like Brabantio and Iago)
claim that black men like Othello contaminate white women they have sexual contact with. If it's true
that Othello believes he's polluted Desdemona and turned her into a filthy "whore," then it would
mean that Othello has internalized the racism that he encounters in the play.
Possibly the most heinous villain in Shakespeare, Iago is fascinating for his most terrible characteristic:
his utter lack of convincing motivation for his actions.…read more

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Desdemona may be a young woman considering the surprise caused by her elopement, but she is a
very strong and resolute woman. She is independent in her conduct, and judges her husband for his
"mind" and his achievements, where she is expected to seek wealth, status and conventional good
looks. We see her at her best in her conversation with Cassio and (in II, i) with Iago, whom she gently
reproves for his "honesty".…read more

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Bianca, which is almost entirely
sexual. This comes back to bite Cassio in the end, since his flirtatious charisma helps convince Othello
that Cassio is having sex with Desdemona.
Cassio addresses Iago as his social inferior (on the subject of salvation) though his treatment of Bianca
would seem less harsh to the Jacobean audience than to us (they would accept his using her, as
appropriate to her class and character, and would recognize her acceptance of the arrangement).…read more

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But she redeems herself, or at least gives a good shot at trying. It is Emilia who discovers the truth
about Iago's plotting and reveals it to the world. She can't bring Desdemona back to life, but she does
clear her friend's name. She ends up sacrificing her life so that Desdemona won't be remembered as a
"whore." Iago kills Emilia as payback for unmasking him, but Emilia dies proud that she set the record
straight.…read more

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