Complete Act I-V Othello notes


Act 1, Sc1

       Roderigo is unhappy with Iago for failing to promote his marriage to Desdemona

       Iago and Roderigo inform Brabantio that his daughter, Desdemona, has secretly married Othello.

This shows us that even the beginning of Othello is set in conflict. Othello is never mentioned by name, but the audience understands that both Iago and Roderigo dislike the Moor. He is referred to as “thicklips” and Iago describes him negatively. Iago despises men that are “honest” and he is seen to be bitter, egotistical and crude- unable to understand loving relationships. This scene is big on dramatic irony, as all characters so far are unable to see the villain in Iago. However, for the audience it must be interesting to witness how Iago manipulates others.


       Othello is called to the Venetian Council on military business

       Brabantio accuses Othello of bewitching his daughter.

Iago pretends loyalty to evoke trust, his anxiety about Othello’s welfare is hypocritical. Othello speaks calmly and sincerely about his love for Desdemona. The audience realizes that Othello is nothing like what Iago described him, and he is actually brave, dignified and authoritative.


       The senate discuss the war with the Turks

       Othello answers Brabantio’s accusations and is sent to Cyprus on a military campaign.

       Iago wants revenge against Othello.

Conflict is seen to dominate all of the scenes in the play. After all that has occured, it could be inferred that Othello’s marriage will not run smoothly. Othello describes that Desdemona “loved me for the dangers I had passed/ And I loved her that she did pity them”. Othello’s military prowess is early discovered. The theme of deception is continued in this scene: like Iago, the Turks have been successful in concealing their intentions, Brabantio’s assessment of his daughter's character has been false and so has his own affection of Othello has been seen as superficial. Iago’s 1st soliloquy suggests that his manipulation of previous characters will lead to more serious deception. Iago’s skill to quickly improvise is also seen, in a few lines he had worked out a plan that would lead to revenge.

Act II, Sc1

       The Turk fleet is destroyed by a storm

       Othello, Desdemona and Iago arrive safely in Cyprus

       Iago involves Roderigo in his plan to remove Cassio.

CONTEXT- the military events of ‘Othello’ are based on historical fact. Selim the 2nd launched a Turkish attack on Cyprus in 1570. Mustapha [general] conquered the island in 1571.

The principal characters are now isolated in Cyprus, removed from the order of Venice. The storm reflects the passions that will be unleashed in the new setting. Iago’s cynicism undermines all relief and joy of the other characters. The audience may also view Iago’s crude description of the female character as part of his own twisted nature. His misogynistic views are carried on in his soliloquy and…


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