1. What impression of Othello do we receive in the first scene of the play, from the
combined speeches of Iago, Roderigo, and Brabantio? How has Shakespeare made
Othello particularly vulnerable to criticism in Act 1?
2. What techniques does Iago employ to gain and maintain the trust of:
a. Roderigo?
b. Othello?
3. Record all of the instances of animal (bestial) imagery used in Act 1. What ideas does
animal imagery convey, in general? For each particular image that you have identified,
explain what specific idea is being conveyed about the character/emotion/behavior
associated with that image.
4. Shakespeare uses a classical allusion to characterize Iago in scene 2. Who is Janus and
how does the allusion enlighten the reader about Iago’s character?
5. Contrast Othello’s and Brabantio’s behaviour and their motivations throughout this act.
What theme does Shakespeare seem to be developing through the juxtaposition of these
6. Consider the thematic significance of the beginning of Act 1, scene 3: look carefully at
the words of the senators, officers, and the Duke as they describe the crisis that has arisen
in the state of Venice. How does this background conflict both develop a particular
atmosphere and reflect the larger themes of the play?
7. Are the criticisms leveled at Othello, earlier in Act 1, supported throughout the rest of the
act – in scenes 2 and 3 in particular?
8. By what means has Othello seduced Desdemona according to:
a. Brabantio?
b. Othello?
c. Desdemona?
And what is revealed about each of these characters based on their various interpretations
of this situation?
9. Quote three specific words used to characterize Desdemona in this scene (by her father,
herself, or others). In what ways do her actions contradict these characterizations?
10. Explain Iago’s views about love; about human nature. What possible explanations are
there for Iago’s very narrow and very cynical perspective of human nature?