Locate a scene in Othello that includes humor and describe its tone and function in the play.

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In the second act of Othello, William Shakespeare introduces humor in regard to a drinking party (act II, scene 3). When Othello and his men have a feast to celebrate his victory and marriage, Iago coaxes Cassio into drinking, taking an important step toward carrying out his plan. Although...

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In the second act of Othello, William Shakespeare introduces humor in regard to a drinking party (act II, scene 3). When Othello and his men have a feast to celebrate his victory and marriage, Iago coaxes Cassio into drinking, taking an important step toward carrying out his plan. Although this scene offers comic relief, it has serious consequences. Cassio has “very poor and unhappy brains for drinking.” He is supposed to be standing guard, but he gets into a drunken brawl; this rash behavior later gets him demoted. The tone of the “night of revels” is light and farcical, as Iago sings a lot of silly songs, but because he informs the audience of his plot in advance, it has dark undertones which match most of the the play.

Two scenes that use humor as comic relief occurs in act III and involve the character of the Clown, who is Othello’s servant. In the interlude with the musicians (scene 1), the Clown presents the lighter side of the sexual themes that have been introduced earlier. He makes a pun about musical “instruments” as a synonym for penises, and “wind instruments” for big talkers or braggarts. He reappears in scene IV, making lewd jokes with Desdemona involving the word “lies,” meaning lives, telling untruths, or having a sexual relationship. This scene also provides foreshadowing, as Othello accuses Desdemona of both lying and having an affair with Cassio, and ends his life by stabbing.

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