From 1996-2001 I taught in the
Intellectual Heritage Program at Temple University in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania. This page is part of my teaching materials for Intellectual
Heritage 51, a course covering literature and ideas from Sappho through
Othello Study Sheet
by Dr. Siegel
Here is an outline of Othello.
I have summarized each scene. In bold-faced type you will find the
quotations you are responsible for. Know the speaker and circumstances of
each quote (including who is being addressed, why the speaker is saying
this, and at what point in the play it is being said). You are responsible
for the entire play Othello, even the parts we did not read aloud in
class. This is a study guide to be used as an aid in understanding the text.
It is not intended to be used instead of reading the text. Yes, you
must know all these quotations IN ADDITION to the quotations on the Final
Exam Review page.
Act I scene one (I.i): Conversation between Iago and
Roderigo. Iago reveals his grudge against Othello and convinces Roderigo to tell Brabantio
that his daughter has eloped with the Moor.
an old black ram is tupping your white ewe
...your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs (Iago, I.1.128)
...your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs
Act One scene two (I.ii):
Iago warns Othello of Brabantio’s anger; Cassio arrives to tell Othello
that a war council has been called; Brabantio then arrives ready to fight
Othello. Othello swears his love for Desdemona is true.
Damned as thou art, thou hast enchanted her!
I.ii.77) (Brabantio, I.ii.77)
Act One scene three (I.iii): Othello is charged with
leading the Venetians to victory against the Turks. Othello and Desdemona publicly avow
their love for each other. Iago privately assures Roderigo that he will have his shot at
Desdemona, proclaims his hate for Othello, and considers plans to make Othello jealous of
Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see.
She has deceived her father and may thee. (Brabantio, I.iii.317-318)
I hate the Moor;
And it is thought abroad that ‘twist my sheets
‘Has done my office... (Iago, I.iii.404-6)
I have’t! It is
engendered! Hell and night
Must bring this monstrous birth to the world’s light. (Iago, I.iii. 421-2)
Act Two scene one (II.ii): All arrive safely on Cyprus
and the war is over before it is begun. Iago convinces Roderigo that Desdemona, although
just married to Othello, is attracted to Cassio. He outlines a plan to Roderigo that
involves him picking a fight with Cassio in order to rid himself of this rival.
With as little a web as this will I ensnare as great a
fly as Cassio (Iago, II.i.197)
For I do suspect the lusty Moor
Hath leaped into my seat; the thought whereof
Doth, like a poisonous mineral, gnaw my inwards; (Iago, II.i. 323-325)
Act Two scene two (II.ii):
A party is announced to celebrate both the victory over the Turks and
Othello and Desdemona’s nuptials (wedding).
Heaven bless the isle of Cyprus and our noble general
Othello (Herald, II.ii.10)
Act Two scene three
Iago gets Cassio, on watch,
drunk and Roderigo picks his fight - the governor of Cyprus, Montano, is
wounded in the process. Othello fires Cassio. Iago advises Cassio to seek
Desdemona’s aid in persuading Othello to restore his commission. Iago will
cause Othello to think that Desdemona has ulterior motives for wishing to
Iago is most honest.
Are we turned Turks, and to ourselves do that
Which heaven hath forbid the Ottomites?
For Christian shame put by this barbarous brawl! (Othello, II.iii.172-4)
I would rather have this tongue cut from my mouth
Than it should do offense to Michael Cassio. (Iago, II.iii. 225-6)
Act Three scene one (III.i):
Iago convinces Cassio to seek out Emilia’s help in getting a private
audience with Desdemona, to urge her to speak to Othello on his behalf.
Act Three scene two (III.ii): Othello goes on an errand
of state business.
Act Three scene three (III.iii):
Iago puts his plot in motion. His insinuations about Desdemona’s
unfaithfulness begin as he and Othello see Cassio and Desdemona talking
together. He successfully raises doubts in Othello’s mind about his wife’s
love and loyalty. Desdemona tries to comfort her obviously upset husband,
but Othello throws her handkerchief to the ground. Emilia unwittingly plays
into Iago’s plot and gives the handkerchief to him. Iago can then show it
as proof of Desdemona’s unfaithfulness when Othello later demands such
proof. Iago is very convincing, styling himself as a true friend to Othello,
and gives more "proof" of this completely fictitious affair. By
the end of the scene, Othello is convinced of his wife’s infidelity and
orders Iago to kill Cassio.
But I do love thee! and when I love thee not,
Chaos is come again. (Othello, III.iii.103-4)
O, beware, my lord, of jealousy!
It is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock
The meat it feeds on. (Iago, III.iii. 191-3)
This fellow’s of
And knows all qualities, with a learned spirit
Of human dealings. (Othello, III.iii.293-5)
If she be false, O, then
heaven mocks itself!
I’ll not believe’t. (Othello, III.iii.313-314)
Villain, be sure thou prove my love a whore!
Be sure of it; give me the ocular proof; (Othello, III.iii. 405-406)
All my fond love thus do I
blow to heaven.
Arise, black vengeance, from the hollow hell! (Othello, III.iii.498-500)
Act Three scene four:
Desdemona innocently tries to speak to Othello on Cassio’s behalf, but
Iago has done a thorough job on Othello. Othello is even more convinced that
Desdemona is being deceitful when she is unable to produce the handkerchief.
Iago’s "proof" appears true. Cassio innocently gives the
handkerchief (which Iago planted in his room) to his girl friend Bianca.
Act Four scene one (IV.i):
Iago drives Othello to the brink of insanity with jealousy - he falls into a
trance. Iago has Othello hide, and he engages Cassio in a discussion of
Bianca’s love for him - Othello, of course, is made to think they are
speaking of Desdemona. Othello strikes Desdemona in front of Ludovico, a
visiting dignitary from Venice. Iago does his best to insinuate that Othello
is no longer worthy of command.
Act Four scene two (IV.ii): Othello questions Emilia, and
she assures him that Desdemona has never been alone with Cassio. Othello calls Desdemona a
whore to her face, and leaves her in confusion. Emilia suggests that some plotter has been
abusing Desdemona to Othello for some unknown reason; Iago denies this as a possibility
and assures Desdemona that Othello is just overworked. Then Roderigo accuses Iago of
keeping all the gifts he has sent via Iago to Desdemona. Iago tells him that the only way
to keep Desdemona here is to kill Cassio, for then the Venetians will not have Othello go
Heaven truly knows that thou art false as hell.
IV.ii.47) (Othello, IV.ii.47)
The Moor’s abused by
some most villainous knave,
Some base notorious knave, some scurvy fellow. (Emilia, IV.ii. 162-3)
Act Four scene three (IV.iii): Desdemona sings the
Willow song, a song of lost love, and she and Emilia speak on the topic of women being
unfaithful. Desdemona reveals a sweet naiveté about the world, while Emilia is more
cynical, charging that women have no less a right to be unfaithful than men.
Act Five, scene one (V.i): Iago convinces Roderigo to
kill Cassio. Cassio must die because he can prove that Iago is behind all this; Roderigo
must die because Iago has robbed him blind. The wounded Cassio cries out and Othello
assumes that Iago has fulfilled his promise to kill him. Iago himself kills Roderigo and
then a crowd gathers, including Bianca. Iago suggests that she participated somehow in
these events, leading the investigators even further from the truth.
This is the night
That either makes me or fordoes me quite. (Iago, V.i.151)
Othello approaches Desdemona in bed and almost
changes his mind about her infidelity. But he smothers her as an act of honor. Emilia
enters and raises a cry, berating Othello for murdering an innocent creature. When Iago
and others enter, Othello reveals the "truth" as told to him by Iago. Emilia
contradicts him and Iago stabs his own wife fatally. Othello now knows the truth and tries
to kill Iago but is restrained. Othello stabs himself instead and Iago is led away in
Then must you speak
Of one that loved not wisely, but too well; (Othello, V.ii.397-8)
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send comments to: Janice Siegel (email@example.com)
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