1. Concerning Race


Things that make you say hmmm…

You know the story of Othello now. It does seem like there are a few things left unclear – motivations and actions of characters, the manner in which events unfold, and then there’s the cane sword!

After your first viewing of the text, what makes you say HMMM…

Our Questions:

Why is Iago called honest in the play?

What was the main reason for Iago’s actions? Why was he so devastated that Othello did not make him his lieutenant?

Why are there inconsistancies in Othello’s treatment due to his race? Why are characters so racist and demeaning behind his back, but friendly to his face? How is he a general?

Evil for Evils Sake?

The actions of the characters in the play vary from quite irresponsible to positively malignant. But are these characters really evil? What motivates us to good or evil actions? Our unit question for this text will be:

Are humans fundamentally good or evil?

Lets note our initially thoughts:

  1. Draw a graph that shows the degrees to which the characters of the play are good or evil
  2. Take some sticky notes, write the names of the characters on them
  3. Put the stickies on the board to indicate your thoughts

Character Resumes

Divide into pairs (or work individually if you want to). Choose 1 character and write their resume post play (imagine the characters who are dead are still alive for the purposes of the activity).

Things to include:

Just a Little History

Choose 1 of the following topics to explore. Work in pairs if you wish:

Group 1: Research Shakespeare. Pretend as if you had to write a book about Shakespeare (a biography). Include information about his personal life, professional life, important events and influences in his life, and any topics of controversy surrounding his life.
Group 2: Research British History 1550-1650. What was going on in Britain during the time just before, during and just after Shakespeare lived? Who were the rulers? What was the political atmosphere? What were the people concerned about? How did the people live? Answer these kinds of questions in your report.
Group 3: Research World History 1550-1650. What was going on in the rest of the world (besides Britain) during this period?
Group 4: Research Othello. What is the play about? Why is it famous? What do critics say about it? Has there been more than one version of the play? Which one(s) are most often performed? Why? Which is/was the best production of the play? What difficulties are there in performing the play (if any)?

Plot Overview

Position the events of the play in order as best you can.

Act 1

  • S1
  • S2
  • S3

Act 2

  • S1
  • S2
  • S3

Act 3

  • S1
  • S2
  • S3
  • S4

Act 4

  • S1
  • S2
  • S3

Act 5

  • S1
  • S2

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