For Wednesday: Shakespeare, Othello, Act 3
Answer TWO of the following...
Q1: Iago claims throughout that he actually believes the slander he spreads, and that he only gives people ‘good’ advice, even if it ultimately serves his purpose. How does Iago use the truth—or his version of the truth—to sway Othello against his wife and Cassio? (note: some people have argued that it’s not a lie if you believe it yourself!)
Q2: Related to the above question, what information do you feel ultimately ‘turns’ Othello from trusting husband to jealous cuckold? He tells Iago at one point, “No, Iago/I’ll see before I doubt; when I doubt, prove;/And on the proof there is no more but this:/Away at once with love or jealousy!” (59). Since he never sees proof, what makes him choose jealousy over love?
Q3: Some African-American actors have refused to play Othello, seeing him ultimately as a racist stereotype of a black man, full of wild moods and sensuous appetites. We see this change in his character in Act 3, when the noble, poetic Othello becomes increasingly brooding and vicious. How do you think a 21st century audience should read Othello here? Is Shakespeare ultimately confirming the stereotype (as if to say that all Moors eventually turn into monsters), or is Othello simply a universal husband/lover here?
Q4: What kind of woman is Emilia, and who’s side do you feel she’s ultimately on: Desdemona/Othello’s, or her husband’s? How much does she actually understand of the plot? You might also consider her lines to Desdemona: “[Men] are all but stomachs, and we all but food;/They eat us hungerly, and when they are full/They belch us” (72).