Othello a level essay questions

Here are the questions that have come up on 'Othello' in the past. It is worth examining these to gain a sense of what kind of questions can.
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This website works best with JavaScript switched on. Please enable JavaScript. Below you will find an exemplar student response to a Section B question in the specimen assessment materials, followed by an examiner commentary on the response. It is true that in Act 1 of the play, Othello's actions and behaviour, his virtue and valour can be seen as admirable. He is after all a tragic hero, and his position in the tragedy demands that he begins in a position of greatness before he suffers his tragic fall.

Shakespeare establishes Othello's greatness through focusing on his military prowess and his valour at the start of the play before charting his hero's descent as he tumbles into chaos. Othello is a soldier for whom the 'big wars' make 'ambition virtue'. By Act 3, however, there is little in him to admire: his valour belongs to a seemingly different world and there is nothing virtuous about a husband who colludes in a plot to destroy his wife. Although Iago is used by Shakespeare at the start of the play to cast doubt on the magnificence of Othello and to test his virtue, when Othello appears he is impressive.

Iago tries to persuade him to run away from the raised father whose daughter Othello has married, but Othello has full confidence in himself and the virtue of his actions.

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Although it could be claimed that this smacks of arrogance, Othello commands the stage and perhaps the audience's admiration. When Brabantio comes with bad intent, accusing Othello of theft and witchcraft, Othello is unperturbed; he tells his pursuers and accusers to put up their swords for the dew will rust them; they shall command more with their years than their weapons. His measured language is a sign of his confidence, self-discipline and virtue. When Othello appears before the Duke he is equally impressive.

Shakespeare uses the senators to counteract Iago's attempts to defame Othello, by having them refer to the general as 'valiant' reminding us of his exploits in the field and the Duke anyway has more interest to employ Othello against the general enemy Ottoman than listen to Brabantio's claims of sorcery.

Talk:Othello

Even so, Othello's virtuous defence of himself and his love for Desdemona is all the more admirable and certainly from a feminist perspective because he asks that Desdemona be called to speak for herself. If Othello is found foul in her report, he says, the Duke should not only take away his trust and office but that sentence should fall upon his life. By twenty first century standards, Othello's affording Desdemona a voice and showing her unwavering respect, is virtuous indeed.

There is also perhaps something if not admirable then at least mesmerising in his declaration of love and his story of how he wooed her:. She loved me for the dangers I had passed,. And I loved her that she did pity them. However, when Shakespeare shifts the scene to Cyprus and the influence of the Venetian state diminishes, Iago, the tragic villain, is able to work his poison on Othello and expose his weaknesses, those aspects of his character that are far from virtuous.

Othello's trust in Iago, the ancient he overlooked for lieutenant, shows a terrible lack of judgement. Iago persuades him that Cassio is unworthy and then that Desdemona is unfaithful and from the point that Iago says 'I like not that', Othello's insecurities, raging jealousy and barbaric inclinations are exposed. Having swallowed Iago's poison, Othello damns Desdemona, threatening to 'tear her all to pieces'.

It is interesting here to note the dramatic contrast Shakespeare sets up between Othello and the Duke.

Candidate 7 - "Othello"

In Act 1, in Venice, when the Duke is called upon to exercise judgement, he listens to both the accounts of Brabantio and Othello. Here in Cyprus at the outpost of civilization, Othello listens only to the lies of Iago. There is dramatic contrast too in the different ways Othello speaks. Othello's earlier speeches which contain so much gravitas are now worn down. He falls under Iago's spell, pulled into the orbit of Iago's filthy linguistic energies and there is not much that is virtuous about his behaviour from now onwards and not much to admire. His humiliation and public striking of Desemona and his cruel murder of her are all too terrible to forget in the final judgement of him.

It is true that when he strikes her there are reminders of his valour and virtue in Lodovico's surprise that he could have misjudged Othello's character so greatly in thinking him good, but these reminders simply intensify the repugnance felt at Othello's actions. It is also impossible to admire the man who strangles his wife believing that he is an honourable murderer.

His pride at enacting the hand of Justice makes him detestable — at a point when he hesitiates, he blames her balmy breath for almost persuading Justice to break its sword. His final speech, when he perhaps understands the appalling consequences of his folly, is seen by some critics as cathartic, a return of the virtuous and valiant Othello of Act 1.

Interestingly, in this speech when he judges himself and tries to shape how others might think , Othello seems to underplay the significance of his valour and contribution to the state. Though he reminds his stage audience that he has done the state some service, he quickly says 'no more of that'. Othello and Iago are the two main characters that allow their views on themselves to take control over their actions without their awareness. There is a tragic ending to this play and it was all because of differing perspectives. In the case of Shakespeare's Othello the outsider from humanity would be Iago for he truly stands out from the rest of society.

Although Othello may be physically put out of the community, it seems that on an emotional and egotistical level Iago puts himself out of society further then Othello's blackness does.

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Othello essay questions - Uufom

He is not merely manipulative, as other villains are; he turns aspects of truth. Iago of "Othello" What makes a good villain? What qualities make one villain stand out from another? Is it their demeanor, ruthlessness, or the methods that they employ to accomplish their tasks? In any case, a great villain must leave the reader with a respect for their methods and a question about their motives.


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In Shakespeare's Othello, there is one character in Iago that fulfills all of these qualifications. Iago is a wonderful villain because he gains other's trust, relentlessly takes advantage. His personality and development during the play is the subject of this essay. Hudson, who wrote nearly a hundred years ago, saw that Iago was not acting from revenge, one is more. Shakespeare's Othello is a remarkable tale of trust, deceitfulness, lust and the most destructive of human emotions: vengeance and hatred.

Iago better known as Othello's antagonist embodies vengeance and hatred to move an agenda to squash all who oppose Iago's plans. As defined by Merrium-Webster the definition of a protagonist is a principal character in a literary work or a leading actor, character, or participant in a literary work. Othello by Shakespeare is a play about Othello an example of.

In the play Othello, the simple ancient, Iago is very successful at his schemes. Iago is able to get the trust of everyone around him, and to appear honest. He is also driven to continue with his schemes and to never quite. From the first scene of the play to the last, Iago is able to be trusted by everyone.

This is one of the many reasons why Iago is so successful in his schemes, he is always trusted. In the first scene of the play we learn that Iago is helping Roderigo, win the. Iago is the character who drives the play, he is the one who makes things happen. Without his greed and hated, there would be no play at all. The whole play is centered around Iago's revenge and in doing so, he is willing to make other people's lives miserable. Through "Othello," Iago uses the other. The whole story is roaming around Iago, because he uses all the character to get what he wants.

He does not care about others feeling, all he cares about is succeeding in his plan. In Othello, the evil Iago manipulates Othello into ruining his own life in the name of revenge. He tells Othello that his wife, Desdemona, is cheating on him. He presents Othello fake evidence time and time again until he is convinced.


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Othello is so angered that he murders his own wife, who has done nothing wrong. Only after she is dead, Desdemona is proven innocent. In immense guilt, Othello commits suicide. Iago finally gets his revenge.