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Othello Act 3 Notes.

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1 Othello Act 3 Notes

2 Othello 3.1 The scene opens with the clown and musicians ( ). The clown, using a variety of puns, is meant to provide comic relief from the tense and upsetting events that have occurred thus far in the play. Iago’s pan begins to work as Cassio asks Emilia to set up a meeting between himself and Desdemona ( ). She agrees to do this so that Cassio and Desdemona can speak in private ( ). Dramatic Irony – Iago offers to “help” as well by making an excuse to draw Othello away so that Desdemona and Cassio can speak in private ( ). However, the audience knows this is part of Iago’s plan to make it seem as though Cassio and Desdemona are having an affair. Iago still has some work he has to do, however, as Emilia admits that Othello still cares for Cassio and is only not reinstating because the man he fought, Montano, is well liked in Cyprus and from a powerful family ( )

3 Othello 3.2 This scene is an example of dramatic irony both through the words of characters and the setting. Othello shows he trusts Iago by having him send important news to the senate. Othello also asks Iago to meet him and help him examine the fortifications. Fortifications are meant to prevent enemies from entering; however, what Othello does realize is that the enemy is already within.

4 Othello 3.3 Cassio is worried that Othello will forget about how loyal and devoted a friend he is the more time he and Othello spend apart ( ). Through the use of imagery Desdemona perfectly plays into Othello’s plan. She explains to Cassio that at every opportunity, whether Othello is eating, sleeping, etc., she will talk to him about forgiving Cassio ( ) What is ironic about this conversation is that the two people most loyal to Othello, Cassio and Desdemona, are simply discussing what they think is best for Othello; however, this act of loyalty will be used against them. Iago plants the first seed of doubt and betrayal in Othello’s mind when they observe Cassio quickly leaving as they approach Desdemona ( ). Foreshadowing and allusion – Othello comments that if he ever falls out of love with Desdemona Chaos will take over suggesting that he will no longer be ruled by logic ( ). Iago plants another seed of doubt when he questions Cassio’s trustworthiness (which he has tarnished through the fight the previous night) when he brought messages to Desdemona while he was wooing her on Othello’s behalf ( ).

5 Othello 3.3 Iago further creates suspicion in Othello’s mind by hesitating in his replies regarding whether or not Cassio can be trusted. Dramatic Irony & Foreshadowing: Men should be what they seem,/Or those that be not, would they might seem none!” (Iago, ) Iago introduces the theme of jealousy by playing on the theme of reputation. He suggests that reputation is the most important part of a person “…the immediate jewel of their souls” ( ). However, he plans to tarnish the reputations of the two people most loyal to Othello in order to create jealousy. Thus reputation is actually only what Iago explained it to Cassio to be: “Reputations is an idle and most false/imposition;… ( ). Imagery – “O, beware, my lord, of jealousy! It is the green-ey’d monster which doth mock The meat it feeds on… But, O what damned minutes tells he o’er Who dotes, yet doubts; suspects, yet [strongly] loves! ( , )

6 Othello 3.3 Othello reveals that he is a logical man not easily overcome by emotion. He admits to Iago that he knows his wife is beautiful and admired by many but this does not make him jealous. The only way he believe she is unfaithful is if he is provided with proof ( ). Iago reveals his first “proofs” to Othello that Desdemona cannot be trusted when he points to how she deceived her father by marrying Othello and that she initially seemed scared of Othello but was actually falling in love with him ( ). Iago tells Othello that if he wants further proof of Desdemona and Cassio possibly having an affair to wait awhile and observe their interactions. See if they meet and if Desdemona talks of Cassio often ( ). Iago knows this will happen, as he has set up these circumstances, but Othello does not. What literary device is this an example of?

7 Othello 3.3 Symbol – Desdemona’s handkerchief is a symbol of her and Othello’s love. It was a prize possession of Othello’s and the first gift he gave to Desdemona. Desdemona displays her love and loyalty to Othello by constantly having the handkerchief with her, kissing it and speaking to it ( ). Divided duty – Iago has often asked Emilia for Desdemona’s handkerchief. Why do you think her has made this request? Emilia is loyal to Desdemona, thus she does not want to steal it; however, she is also loyal to Iago as he is her husband. As a result she finds a way to make them both happy by having the handkerchief copied ( ). It is ironic that Othello causes the handkerchief to be lost and provides the opportunity for it to be copied. It can be suggested that because of this act Othello is bringing about his own demise ( ). Emilia gives Iago the handkerchief and looks for some sign of appreciation or tenderness from her husband but only receives mocking and is turned away. Iago’s interactions with another innocent victim further develops his malicious and heartless character ( ). Iago plans to place the handkerchief in Cassio’s lodgings for him to find. Iago believes once Othello sees Cassio with it this will be the final proof he needs to believe in the affair ( ). Once again Iago is not directly involved in the actions that will bring about others’ downfall.

8 Othello 3.3 Othello admits that Iago’s “poison” has worked as he cannot get the thought of Desdemona being unfaithful out of his mind; however, he still asks Iago for proof before he fully believes she has betrayed him ( ). At this point Othello is facing his greatest internal struggle – between his logical side and his emotional side. Dramatic irony is once again used as Othello turns to the person who is actually betraying him, Iago, for proof of the person who is actually loyal to him, Desdemona, being unfaithful. Imagery – it is significant that Othello refers to battlefield imagery to describe the conflict that is going on inside him ( ). He clearly is torn between believing in his wife’s loyalty or untrustworthiness as well as the amount of truth behind Iago’s words. This part of the scene also shows that Othello is a logical man as he is on to Iago, he questions the truth behind what Iago is saying. If Othello was not blinded by his emotions (jealousy) he may have been able to see Iago for what he was at this point as Othello has proven that he can understand and is insightful regarding his enemies as this is why he has been appointed general. Ultimately it is almost as though finding love with Desdemona has weakened Othello.

9 Othello 3.3 Iago’s “proof”:
Hears Cassio say “Sweet Desdemona,/Let us be wary, let us hid our loves;” ( ) “Curse fate that gave thee to the Moor!” ( ) Cassio put his leg over Iago, sighed and kissed him as though he were Desdemona ( ) He saw Cassio with Desdemona’s handkerchief ( ) Hubris – Othello finally accepts all of Iago’s “proofs” and vows to get revenge on Desdemona and Cassio ( ). Dark imagery (black vengeance; hollow hell) and animal imagery (aspics’ tongues) are used to demonstrate the depth of Othello’s anger ( , 450). Additionally, just like in battle, Othello vows he will not stop until Cassio and Desdemona receive the punishment he feels is fit ( )

10 Othello 3.3 Iago will kill Cassio, Othello plans to kill Desdemona and Othello has promoted Iago to his lieutenant for his “loyalty” ( ) How do you feel about Iago at the end of this scene? How do you feel about Othello at the end of this scene?

11 Othello 3.4 Comic relief/pun – The exchange between the clown and Desdemona, focusing on the question regarding where Cassio lies is meant to provide a laugh for the audience, and reprieve from the intensity of the previous scene, as it plays on the notion of the affair ( ). Irony – Desdemona asks Emilia if she has seen her handkerchief. Emilia denies knowledge of its whereabouts. Desdemona is upset about it missing but is not distraught because she claims Othello is not jealous and trusts her completely ( ). She does not know that this was the final “proof” to convince her husband otherwise of her character. Symbol – The importance of the handkerchief is revealed. It once belonged to Othello’s mother who was given it by an Egyptian. She was told that so long as she had it her husband would always love her, but if it were lost her husband would look upon her with hatred. This is now what has become of Othello and Desdemona’s relationship ( ). Irony – This tale behind the handkerchief and its magical powers is ironic as this was the first token Othello gave to Desdemona. Brabantio accused Othello of using magic to win Desdemona’s love, but Othello claimed this was not true. Instead, the story behind the handkerchief suggests the opposite, that it helped Othello fall in love with Desdemona.

12 Othello 3.4 Theme - Emilia sums up jealousy best when she explains that jealousy feeds upon itself. Thus, those who are jealous will never be satisfied so long as they are jealous ( ). It is also ironic that Emilia shows this great insight as her husband, the one who is actually consumed by jealousy and is causing others to be destroyed by it, treats her as though she is worthless and has nothing valuable to offer. Cassio finds the handkerchief in his chambers and asks Bianca to copy it ( ). Why is this significant? (Think about Bianca’s reaction and Iago’s plan).

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