Othello Act 2, Scene 2 Summary & Quotes

Instructor: Adam Hembree

Adam has an MA in English. He has taught a range of literature and theatre subjects at the university level. He has also worked as a writing tutor and academic advisor.

This lesson will examine the key events from Act 2, Scene 2 of William Shakespeare's Othello. Important quotes will be discussed, as will the scene's significance within the play as a whole.

A Herald Enters

'Don't shoot the messenger' is a popular phrase in colloquial English, but it hearkens back to a centuries-old tradition of verbal news gathering. A herald is an official messenger or town crier: one who spreads news throughout the streets by shouting. Many of Shakespeare's plays include a herald, or some version thereof. Incidentally, many modern newspapers include the word 'Herald' as part of their titles.

The herald's primary function in most plays is to provide the audience with necessary exposition, or explanation of key plot information. Since a play is almost all dialogue, certain important information is hard to integrate into common speech without seeming awkward or unnatural. As a matter of stagecraft, herald scenes can also provide much-needed time for actors to change clothes backstage and get to their marks for the next scenes.

This very short scene in Othello sets the tone for the scene to follow. The people of Cyprus will rejoice in their liberation from the Turkish fleet with wine and song.

Act 2, Scene 2: Sport and Revels

The herald enters alone to proclaim Othello's orders for the people of Cyprus. The approaching Turkish fleet of ships had been scattered and destroyed by a great storm the previous night, leaving Cyprus safe from impending doom. In celebration, Othello commands a night of revelry:

Every man put himself into triumph: some to

dance, some to make bonfires, each man to what

sport and revels his addition leads him.

Even in leisure, Othello is somewhat organized, prescribing roles to make things run smoothly. That said, the herald reminds us that Othello has another reason to be happy:

For besides

these beneficial news, it is the celebration of his

nuptial. So much was his pleasure should be proclaimed

All offices are open, and there is full

liberty of feasting from this present hour of five till

the bell have told eleven.

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