Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 540
1. Explain Iago’s attitude toward Roderigo and Cassio.
2. How does Othello come to think that Iago has kept his vow?
3. What function does the presence of Lodovico and Gratiano serve?
4. Why does Iago stab Roderigo?
5. How does Iago cast aside suspicion of his own part in the plot to kill Cassio?
6. When does Othello show a change of heart towards Desdemona?
7. Why does Othello mention the handkerchief so often?
8. Why does Othello kill Desdemona?
9. How are all the plots and schemes revealed at the end of the play?
10. Why does Othello kill himself?
1. Iago demonstrates a callous attitude toward Roderigo and Cassio. Up to this point, he has used them to achieve his goals, so to him their deaths would be more valuable than their lives. If Roderigo is dead, then Iago would not have to compensate him for the jewels he tricked from him. If Cassio is dead, there is no risk of his being informed about Iago’s plan by Othello.
2. When Othello hears Cassio cry out after being wounded by Iago, he believes that Iago has kept his vow to kill Cassio.
3. Lodovico and Gratiano enter the street at the cries for help. Lodovico’s comment “Let’s think’t unsafe / To come into the cry without more help” suggests the danger that exists. Their presence also provides an “audience” for Iago’s scenario to cast off all suspicion from himself.
4. Iago stabs Roderigo to unsure that he will not reveal any of Iago’s scheming.
5. As soon as Bianca enters the confusion, Iago says, “I do suspect this trash / To be party in this injury.” He uses Bianca as a scapegoat to pretend that an investigation will reveal her complicity in the attempt to kill Cassio.
6. When Othello sees Desdemona sleeping, he begins to doubt his suspicions. The “whiter skin of hers than snow / And smooth as alabaster” tempt him to “not shed her blood.”
7. The handkerchief was a significant gift from Othello’s mother for what it represented and for the charms it supposedly held. It was the “ocular proof” he requested to believe Iago’s accusation. Furthermore, his belief that Desdemona gave it away wounded him deeply and became an obsession because he never knew how Cassio really got the handkerchief until Cassio himself revealed the information.
8. Othello kills Desdemona because he is enraged by jealousy; he believes her to be a liar when she denies having given the handkerchief to Cassio; and she expresses grief at the news of Cassio’s death.
9. At the end of the play, Gratiano reveals that Brabantio has died. Othello learns that Emilia gave the handkerchief to Iago. Iago confesses his part in the plan to kill Cassio. Letters found with Roderigo reveal his part in the plan to eliminate Cassio. Another letter found on Roderigo reveals his discontent with Iago and his scheme to provoke Cassio to argument.
10. Othello kills himself because he recognizes the full weight of his crime. “He that was Othello” is already destroyed because he has lost all honor and respect and is now no better than the “malignant and turbaned Turk” he once killed in Aleppo. The disgrace of having all revealed would hurt more than his own suicide.