You are on page 1of 14


By William Shakespeare
Key Facts
Full title: Othello
Type of Work: Play
Genre: Tragic drama, historical drama
First Performed: by the Kings Men at the
Court of King James I November 1, 1604

About the play
Othello is set against the backdrop of the
wars between Venice and Turkey that raged
in the latter part of the sixteenth century.
Cyprus, which is the setting for most of the
action, was a Venetian outpost attacked by
the Turks in 1570 and conquered the
following year.
About the Play Continued
Othello begins on a street in Venice, in the midst of
an argument between Roderigo, a rich man, and
Iago. Roderigo has been paying Iago to help him in
his suit to Desdemona. But Roderigo has just
learned that Desdemona has married Othello, a
general whom Iago begrudgingly serves as ensign.
Iago says he hates Othello, who recently passed him
over for the position of lieutenant in favor of the
inexperienced soldier Michael Cassio.
Themes in the Play
The Incompatibility of Military Heroism &
The Danger of Isolation
Motifs in the Play
Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or
literary devices that can help to develop and
inform the texts major themes.
Sight and Blindness
Hell, Demons and Monsters

Symbols in the Play
Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or
colors used to represent abstract ideas or
The Handkerchief
The song Willow
Significant Terms
Tragedy: a form of drama usually
involving a conflict between a
character and some higher power,
such as the law, the gods, fate, or
Blank verse: a verse form consisting of
unrhymed lines of iambic pentameter.
Prose: the ordinary language people
use in speaking or writing
Pun: the humorous use of a word or
phrase to suggest two or more
meanings at the same time.
Significant Terms Continued
Soliloquy: speech, usually lengthy, in which a
character, alone on stage, expresses his or her
thoughts aloud.
1. External: dispute between the
protagonist and another character
or nature
2. Internal: occurs when the protagonist
struggles within himself or herself
A few more terms
Foil: A foil character is either one who is in
most ways opposite to the main character or
nearly the same as the main character.
Anachronism: A thing out of its time. A
problem in historical fiction in that a writer
may make reference to an invention or
custom that was not known in the period in
which his or her story is set.

The last of the terms
Situational irony: The discrepancy between
what is expected and what actually happens.
Verbal irony: A character says the opposite
of what he or she means.
Dramatic irony: Dramatic irony is most
effective when characters make fateful
choices based on information the reader
realizes is incorrect.
Introducing? Who Can You Become?
The Cast of Othello
Othello- The plays protagonist and hero. A
Christian Moor and general of the armies of
Desdemona- The daughter of the Venetian
senator Brabanzio. Desdemona and Othello
are secretly married before the play begins.
Iago- Othellos ensign (ancient or standard
bearer) and the villain of the play.

The Cast of Othello Continued
Michael Cassio - Othellos Lieutenant. His
high position is resented by Iago.
Emilia - Iagos wife and Desdemonas
attendant. Distrusts her husband and is
attached to Desdemona.
Roderigo - A jealous suitor of Desdemona.
Young, rich and foolish.
Bianca - A prostitute in Cyprus.
The Cast of Othello Continued
Brabanzio - Desdemonas father. He feels betrayed
that the General married his daughter in secret.
Duke of Venice - Official authority of Venice. The
Duke has great respect for Othello.
Montano - The governor of Cyprus before Othello.
Lodovico - One of Brabanzios kinsmen.
Graziano - Another of Brabanzios kinsmen.
Clown - Othellos servant. Look to him for puns.