OTHELLO. Notes on Setting, Character, Plot, Conflict & Theme

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1 OTHELLO Notes on Setting, Character, Plot, Conflict & Theme

2 Setting: Where it all goes down Venice- a prosperous Italian city & a symbol of law & civilization Cyprus- later in the play, the action moves to Cyprus (an island sacred to Venus, the goddess of Love)

3 Character- Othello Othello is the first great black protagonist in Western literature, and still one of the most famous. The play dramatizes this hero's fall from grace Othello begins as a noble guy (he's a celebrated and respected war hero, a loving husband, and an eloquent storyteller) but, by the end of the play, Othello has become an irrational, violent, and insanely jealous husband because Iago convinces him that Desdemona has been unfaithful.

4 Character- Iago Iago is one of the most notorious and mysterious villains of all time. He spends all of his time plotting against Othello and Desdemona, eventually convincing Othello that his wife has been cheating, despite the fact that Desdemona has been completely faithful. Iago's capacity for cruelty seems limitless, and no motivation he gives for his actions seems enough to explain the incredible destruction he wreaks on the lives of the people he knows best.

5 Character- Desdemona Desdemona is a beautiful, young, white, Venetian debutante, her father's pride and joy. But she refuses to marry any of the rich, handsome Venetian men that everyone expects her to marry. Instead, she elopes with Othello an older black man, an outsider to Venetian society. Turns out, this is a pretty gutsy move Desdemona not only defies her father's expectations (that she marry a white man of his choosing), she also thumbs her nose at a society that largely disapproves of interracial marriages. In this way, Desdemona's relationship with Othello speaks to the play's concerns with sixteenth century attitudes about sex, gender, and race

6 Character Emilia Older and more cynical than Desdemona, Emilia develops a close relationship with the young married woman. Emilia and Desdemona bond over husband trouble: Emilia's bitter take on her married life with Iago contrasts with Desdemona's (temporarily) idealistic marriage to Othello. Michael Cassio When we begin, Cassio is one of Othello's soldiers, and is recently appointed the general's second-incommand. This infuriates Iago, as he wanted to be lieutenant, and Cassio is a math (not muscle) guy, so Iago cannot understand this appointment.

7 Character Roderigo Roderigo is a rich, unintelligent guy who thinks that if he sends Desdemona enough expensive presents, she'll fall in love with him. He's hired Iago to be his wingman, but Iago basically uses him as a walking ATM. Iago takes the jewelry Roderigo thinks he's giving to Desdemona and sells it for a profit. All Roderigo does in response is to fall for Iago's smooth talking again and again. Brabantio Desdemona's father, Brabantio, is a rich and important Venetian politician. He likes Othello and invites him to visit his house a lot but he never expected Othello "to steal" his daughter. Further, he never believed his little girl would marry Othello unless she was drugged or under some kind of spell.

8 Character Bianca Bianca is a Venetian courtesan (prostitute) who is in love with Cassio, who sees her as a laughable nuisance. Shakespeare's portrayal of Bianca is sympathetic when Cassio treats her like garbage, it's clear that Shakespeare's making a point about how women get used throughout the play. She is a foil to Desdemona. Lodovico Desdemona's cousin and a member of Venice's diplomatic service, Lodovico arrives in Cyprus just in time to see Desdemona get slapped by her new husband, and then witness the deaths of several main characters, and the twisted revelations of jealousy and betrayal. He has no personality he's just a witness. But, like Horatio in Hamlet, Lodovico is the guy who survives the inevitable bloodbath at the play's end and promises to tell the world about the tragedy that has just unfolded.

9 Character Montano Governor of Cyprus before Othello showed up to take command, Montano ends up getting in a fight with Cassio, and in turn gets Cassio in serious trouble. Gratiano Desdemona's uncle Duke, Senators The important men in charge of Venice. They think Othello's pretty great even that he might make a pretty great sonin-law.

10 Plot: How it All Goes Down Othello and Desdemona have just eloped and are happy and in love. Othello promotes Cassio instead of Iago to be his lieutenant. Iago thinks he should be lieutenant and decides to seek revenge against Othello. The play is about the schemes that Iago puts into place in order to create our tragic hero s downfall.

11 Themes As we read, think about what statement is made by the play about each of the following topics: Jeolousy Race Gender Sex Marriage Manipulation Warfare Hate Identity

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