Othello Act 1 Questions

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  • 0:35 Scene 1
  • 3:10 Scene 2
  • 3:45 Scene 3
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Wendy A. Garland

Wendy has a Ph.D. in Adult Education and a Master's Degree in Business Management. She has 10 years experience working in higher education.

This lesson includes questions and answers from Act 1 of William Shakespeare's ''Othello.'' These questions and answers help explain the play's important events and assist with student comprehension.


Written around 1603, William Shakespeare's Othello is the tragic tale of jealousy, hatred, pride, and murder, with a liberal dose of racism added for good measure. It is told in five acts and is based on an earlier play by the Italian Cinthio.

The play follows Othello, a Moorish general in the Venetian army, his wife Desdemona, and his lieutenant Cassio. The main characters all fall prey to a complex hate-fueled revenge plot by Othello's once trustworthy officer, Iago. But of course it all begins with Act 1, which is the focus of this lesson.

Scene 1

Themes of Hatred

1.) Why are Roderigo and Iago arguing as Othello opens?

As Scene 1 of Act 1 begins, the wealthy Roderigo argues with Iago. Roderigo has been paying Iago so he can gain favor with Desdemona. But, not only has Roderigo not seen any progress, he has just learned that Desdemona has married Othello, under whom Iago serves as his ensign.

2.) How does Iago convince Roderigo that he has not done any favors for Othello?

Iago tells him that he hates Othello, and would never help him anyway.

3.) What is Iago's main reason for hating Othello?

Iago tells Roderigo that chief among his grievances is the fact that Othello promoted Cassio to Lieutenant instead of him. Iago says that while Cassio knows a lot about strategy, he has no battle experience. And yet, despite Iago's many years of faithful service as a soldier and a leader of men in Othello's army, Cassio is promoted over Iago.

4.) What is the first sign that Iago might plot against Othello?

Iago tells Roderigo that from now on, he will only serve his own purpose. Iago says he will only pretend to be serving Othello.

Themes of Jealousy

1.) Who is Brabantio? Why do Roderigo and Iago wake him in the middle of the night?

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