William Shakespeare – Othello (Descriptive Questions Answers)

Act One

Q1. What was Iago’s complaint in Scene I?
Answer – Iago has been passed over for a promotion. Cassio got the promotion to Lieutenant even though Iago had more time in service as a soldier. Cassio got the promotion over Iago because his learning included theory and strategy whereas Iago’s did not.

Q2. Who was Brabantio, and why did Iago and Roderigo awaken him in the middle of the night?
Answer – Brabantio was Desdemona’s father. Iago and Roderigo awaken him to tell him of Desdemona’s marriage to Othello.

Q3. Why did Iago leave Roderigo at Brabantio’s house?
Answer – Iago didn’t want to be seen as being against Othello (even though he is).

Q4. What was Brabantio’s reaction to Othello’s marriage to Desdemona?
Answer – He was outraged at this mixed-marriage.

Q5. Why did the Duke send for Othello?
Answer – “Valiant Othello, we must straight employ you/Against the general enemy in Ottoman.”

Q6. Brabantio complains to the Duke about Othello’s marriage to Desdemona. After listening to both sides of the story, what was the Duke’s reply?
Answer – The Duke says he thinks Othello would win his daughter as well under the same circumstances, that Brabantio will just have to make the best of the situation.

Q7. What was Roderigo’s complaint, and what was Iago’s reply to it?
Answer – Roderigo was love-sick and depressed, seeing no hope for his winning Desdemona now that she is married to Othello. Iago tells him to use his reason, to hold back his passion, that they should “be conjunctive in [their] revenge against him [Othello].”

Act Two

Q1. Why did Iago want Roderigo to anger Cassio?
Answer – Iago told Roderigo that if he can show Cassio as being undisciplined, he can cause “these Cyprus to mutiny” and have Cassio relieved of his duty. This will allow Roderigo a better chance of getting Desdemona, since Othello and Desdemona will have to stay longer until a replacement for Cassio can be found.

Q2. What was the purpose of Iago’s plan?
Answer – By encouraging and using Roderigo, Iago will “put the Moor/At least into a jealousy so strong that judgement cannot cure.” Iago will ruin Othello’s relationship with Desdemona as a means of revenge for Othello’s promoting Cassio instead of himself (Iago).

Q3. Why did Iago want Cassio to drink more wine?
Answer – He wanted Cassio to be a little drunk and argumentative when Roderigo would approach him later.

Q4. What lie did Iago tell Montano about Cassio?
Answer – He told Montano that Cassio was drunk every night. He also casted doubt on Othello’s judgement for appointing Cassio, who might be drunk in a moment of crisis.

Q5. Why did Othello strip Cassio of his rank?
Answer – Through Iago’s crafty explanation of Cassio’s fight with Roderigo, Othello thought Cassio was irresponsible and dishonorable.

Q6. Why did Iago want Cassio to ask Desdemona for help in restoring Othello’s faith in Cassio?
Answer – If Desdemona would take up Cassio’s cause, it would appear as though she would favor him. That would advance Iago’s plot to make Othello jealous beyond reason.

Act Three

Q1. Why didn’t Iago simply tell Othello right away that Desdemona and Cassio were having an affair?
Answer – By being reluctant to tell Othello his thoughts and making Othello drag the information out of him, Iago did lend credibility to his tale and did hold Othello’s friendship.

Q2. What thing did Emilia find and give to Iago? What did Iago intend to do with it?
Answer – She gave him the handkerchief Desdemona had dropped, Othello’s first gift to Desdemona. Iago wanted to plant it in Cassio’s possession to show Othello that
Desdemona had given it as a favor to Cassio.

Q3. What was Iago’s reply when Othello demanded proof of his wife’s disloyalty?
Answer – He lied, telling Othello that Cassio had a dream in which he cried out to Desdemona, saying “Let us be wary, let us hide our loves” and “Cursed fated that gave thee to the Moor!” Then Iago told Othello that he saw Cassio with Desdemona’s handkerchief.

Q4. What did Othello decide and command at the end of Scene III?
Answer – Iago was to have Cassio killed within three days. Othello would kill Desdemona himself. Iago was promoted to Lieutenant.

Q5. What was Emilia’s relationship with Iago? Desdemona?
Answer – Emilia was Iago’s wife. She did things out of love for him. Emilia was a servant to Desdemona but also had affection and friendship for her. In Act III, Emilia was still more loyal to Iago than to Desdemona; she did not tell Desdemona about the handkerchief.

Q6. Who had the handkerchief at the end of Act III? Why?
Answer – Cassio gave it to Bianca, his prostitute friend, for her to take out the design.

Act Four

Q1. After Iago lied and told Othello that Cassio confessed going to bed with Desdemona, what advice did he give the overwhelmed Othello?
Answer – Iago told Othello to forget about it — that many women end up in beds where they don’t belong. He also told Othello to have patience, not to act rashly, to think and protect his own reputation.

Q2. How did Iago trick Othello into thinking Cassio was gloating and bragging about his affair with Desdemona?
Answer – Iago told Othello that he would question Cassio about his affair with Desdemona. When Cassio comes, Othello retires out of sight, to watch. Instead of questioning Cassio about Desdemona, he asks about his relationship with Bianca, which brought the desired appearances to make Othello’s jealousy grow.

Q3. Why was Bianca angry with Cassio?
Answer – She loved him and thought some other woman had given him the handkerchief as a gift.

Q4. How did Bianca’s return with the handkerchief help Iago?
Answer – Her returning the handkerchief to Cassio made things appear to Othello as though all Iago had said was true; that Desdemona had given the handkerchief to Cassio, who had thought no more of it than to give it to a prostitute.

Q5. Why did Othello hit Desdemona?
Answer – She, in his eyes, had openly stated her love for Cassio. He was enraged by even the thought of Cassio.

Q6. What was Lodovico’s reaction to Othello’s behavior towards Desdemona? How did Iago later explain Othello’s behavior to Lodovico?
Answer – Lodovico was shocked, saying that Othello’s behavior would not be believed in Venice, and he asked if Othello had lost his wits. Iago replied that this behavior is mild, but he, Iago, can’t honestly speak of Othello’s behavior, that Lodovico should just observe Othello for himself.

Q7. Why did Othello ask Emilia about Cassio’s affair with Desdemona, and what was her reply?
Answer – He was still looking for truth and proof. Emilia claimed that Desdemona was innocent.

Q8. To whom does Desdemona turn for help after Othello calls her a strumpet?
Answer – She, ironically, turns to Iago.

Q9. Why did Iago tell Rodriego to kill Cassio? Why did Roderigo consent to think about it?
Answer – Having Cassio removed at this point removes some possibilities for complications to Iago’s plan. Also, having Cassio killed would be sweet revenge for Iago. Roderigo agreed to consider Iago’s proposal because Iago had shown him how the removal of Cassio was necessary in the plan for Roderigo’s having Desdemona.

Act V

Q1. How would Iago gain from Roderigo’s death? Cassio’s?
Answer – If Roderigo would die, Iago wouldn’t have to own up to stealing the jewels he was supposed to be giving to Desdemona from Roderigo. If Cassio would die, Iago’s lies to Othello would be safe.

Q2. What happened when Cassio and Roderigo fought?
Answer – Roderigo was wounded by Cassio. Cassio was wounded from behind by Iago.

Q3. What did Iago do after he wounded Cassio?
Answer – Iago left but returned a few minutes later to “help” Cassio and to finish off Roderigo, who had been identified as one of the attackers.

Q4. How was Desdemona faithful to Othello to the end?
Answer – When Emilia asked “who hath done this deed” to Desdemona, she replied “Nobody, I myself.” She did not tell that Othello had smothered her.

Q5. What was Emilia’s reaction when Othello told her that Iago had revealed Desdemona’s affair with Cassio to him?
Answer – She was shocked and amazed. All along she had thought the tale had been a lie contrived by some awful person; never dreaming that Iago was responsible.

Q6. Who told the truth about Iago?
Answer – Before her death, Emilia told all she had figured out. Then, Iago’s actions confessed his guilt. Finally, letters found in Roderigo’s pockets made Iago’s conviction even more

Q7. What happened to Othello, Iago and Cassio in the end?
Answer – Othello killed himself. Iago was stabbed and imprisoned, his fate to be determined by Cassio. Cassio became “Lord Governor.”

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