Othello Act I, Scenes 1-3 Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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Act I, Scenes 1-3 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What reason does Iago give for his hatred of Othello?

2. What information do Roderigo and Iago give to Brabantio regarding Desdemona’s whereabouts?

3. How does Iago make himself look favorable in Othello’s eyes?

4. What news does Michael Cassio bring when he enters?

5. To what does Brabantio attribute Desdemona’s affections for Othello?

6. What is the military issue that the Duke of Venice and his senators discuss?

7. What accusation does Brabantio make against Othello to the duke?

8. What explanation does Othello give as cause for Desdemona’s affection for him?

9. To whom does Desdemona pledge her duty?

10. In the final speech of Act I, what does Iago plan to do to further his plot against Othello?

Answers
1. Iago tells Roderigo that he hates Othello because “Michael Cassio, a Florentine / … that never set a squadron in the field / Nor the division of a battle knows,” has just been chosen by Othello as his lieutenant. His bitterness is evident when he tells Roderigo that “’tis the curse of service” that promotion is made by personal liking not by seniority.

2. After Roderigo calls out in the night that thieves have robbed Brabantio’s household, Iago tells Brabantio, in gross images of animal lust, that “an old black ram / Is tupping your white ewe.” When he refers to Othello as the devil, he incites Brabantio further against the Moor. Roderigo then informs Brabantio that Desdemona has been “Transported … / To the gross clasps of a lascivious Moor.”

3. Iago makes himself look favorable in Othello’s eyes by telling him how Brabantio’s “scurvy and provoking terms” against Othello made him want to attack Brabantio. He also suggests that Othello watch his marriage because Brabantio might invoke the law against it, thus playing on Othello’s trust in him.

4. Michael Cassio tells Othello that the duke requires his service because of some military action, “a business of some kind,” in Cyprus.

5. Brabantio attributes Desdemona’s affection for Othello to his having “enchanted her” because this attraction is so opposite her nature and breeding. He emphasizes Othello’s exotic nature in order to minimize the plausibility that Desdemona could choose someone who is not amount “the wealthy curled darlings of our nation.”

6. The duke and the senators are in the process of determining the validity of reports that say “a hundred and seven,” “a hundred forty,” and “two hundred” Turkish galleys are approaching Cyprus. A sailor enters with a false report from Signor Angelo that the Turks are making for Rhodes, but a messenger from Signor Montano, governor of Cyprus, reports that the Ottomites have joined the Turkish fleet and...

(The entire section is 660 words.)