Othello Act 2 Questions

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  • 0:01 Play Background
  • 0:37 Scene One
  • 3:31 Scene Two
  • 3:41 Scene Three
  • 6:05 Lesson Summary
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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 will include questions and answers from Act 2 of William Shakespeare's 'Othello.' These questions and answers will help better explain its important events and assist students with comprehension of Act 2.

Play Background

In Act 1 of William Shakespeare's Othello, we saw the disillusioned and scheming Iago use Roderigo's jealousy and Brabantio's racism to plot his revenge on Cassio, and eventually on Othello. At the end of Act 1, we left Othello, Desdemona, Iago, Cassio, and Roderigo as they headed to Cyprus so Othello and his army could thwart the Turkish armada's assault on Cyprus, which was a Venetian outpost at the time. And that is where we pick up the action as Act 2 begins.

Let's start with some basic questions about Act 2, Scene 1.

Scene 1

  • Who is Montano? What is he doing as Act 2 starts?

Montano is Cyprus' governor. He and two other gentlemen watch the storm, figuring the Turkish armada will probably not survive it to attack Cyprus.

  • What news does Montano receive about the ships?

Just as he had guessed, Montano is told that the Turkish fleet had sunk in the storm.

  • What further news is Montano given at that time?

After hearing the news of the sinking of the Turkish ships, Montano worries about Othello's ship, which has sailed into the same storm. However, just then, news comes that a ship approaches.

  • Who is on the first ship that arrives?

The first ship turns out to be carrying Iago, Emilia, Desdemona, and Roderigo.

  • What happens as Iago, Emilia, Desdemona, and Cassio disembark and meet Montano?

Everyone realizes Othello has not yet arrived. But just then, another ship is announced in the distance. As they wait for the other ship, Desdemona and Cassio give Emilia some friendly grief and say she talks too much.

  • Iago joins in the conversation with Desdemona and Cassio. What does he say?

Iago chooses that moment to belittle all women by saying that all women, tall or short, pretty or ugly, are tricksters, hypocrites, and lazy, except when it comes to sex. Desdemona laughs and goes along with him.

  • How does Iago plan to frame and disgrace Cassio?

Iago sees Cassio holding Desdemona's hand as they talk about Othello. He decides to use that to frame Cassio and make him lose his new post as lieutenant.

  • After Othello arrives safely, what do Iago and Roderigo talk about?

Othello orders Iago to unload the ship as everyone else goes in to the castle to celebrate. As he does, Iago tells a depressed Roderigo to not worry, and that Desdemona will soon tire of Othello and will want a proper gentleman as a husband. However, Iago tells Roderigo, that her next obvious choice will be the newly promoted Cassio. But since Cassio was holding Desdemona's hand earlier, his intentions toward her can only be bad. As such, he should make sure Cassio falls out of favor with Othello and loses his position.

  • What is Iago's plan to disgrace Cassio?

Iago convinces Roderigo to start a fight with Cassio that night so that the commotion will disturb their Cypriote hosts and make Othello fire Cassio.

  • At the end of Scene 1, what does Iago reveal in his soliloquy?

Iago reveals that he believes Othello has slept with his wife Emilia and at least partially because of that, Iago wants to sleep with Desdemona to get even with Othello. However, Iago goes on to say that even if he fails in bedding Desdemona, having Roderigo make Othello believe that Cassio, his trusted lieutenant, has slept with Desdemona will drive Othello mad.

Scene 2

So, what happens in Scene 2? A page announces that Othello is going to have a big party to celebrate the Turkish armada's sinking, as well as his marriage to Desdemona.

Scene 3

Scene 2 and the second act of Othello is brief, so let's move ahead to questions for Scene 3.

  • What job does Othello give Cassio during the party?

Othello puts Cassio on guard duty and reminds him to not go crazy during the festivities.

  • What does Iago tell Cassio after Othello leaves?

After Othello and Desdemona leave to consummate their marriage, Iago joins Cassio on guard duty and convinces him to have a bit more wine, and to go get some of the party guests to join them.

  • What is Iago's plan for Cassio?

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