Quotes & Possible Essay Questions for Othello


1. "I am not what I am." (Iago 1.1)

2. "You are—a senator." (Iago 1.1)

3. "Keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them." (Othello 1.2)

4. "Were it my cue to fight, I should have known it / Without a prompter." (Othello 1.2)

5. "I saw Othello’s visage in his mind." (Desdemona 1.3)

6. "If virtue no delighted beauty lack, / Your son-in-law is far more fair than black." (Duke 1.3)

7. "Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see: / She has deceived her father, and may thee." (Brabantio 1.3)

8. "My life upon her faith!" (Othello 1.3)

9. "I have looked upon the world for four times seven years, and since I could distinguish betwixt a benefit and an injury, I never found man that knew how to love himself." (Iago 1.3)

10. "Virtue? a fig! ’Tis in ourselves that we are thus, or thus." (Iago 1.3)

11. "Who steals my purse steals trash." (Iago 3.3)

12. "O, beware, my lord, of jealousy! / It is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock/ The meat it feeds on." (Iago 3.3)

13. "For she had eyes, and chose me." (Othello 3.3)

14. "Farewell! Othello’s occupation’s gone!" (Othello 3.3)

15. "Nobody,—I myself." (Desdemona 5.2)

16. "Thou hast not half that pow’r to do me harm / As I have to be hurt." (Emilia 5.2)

17. "O gull! O dolt! / As ignorant as dirt!" (Emilia 5.2)

18. "An honourable murderer, if you will; / For naught I did in hate, but all in honor." (Othello 5.2)

19. "Demand me nothing. What you know, you know." (Iago 5.2)

20. "Then must you speak / Of one that loved not wisely, but too well; / Of one not easily jealous, but, being wrought, / Perplexed in the extreme." (Othello 5.2)

21. "This did I fear, but thought he had no weapon; / For he was great of heart." (Cassio 5.2)


Possible Essay Questions:

1. Compare and contrast any two film versions of the play.

2. Compare and contrast at least three film versions of the same character—Othello, Iago, Desdemona, etc.

3. Discuss the reasons for Iago’s actions. How far ahead does he plan and how much harm did he intend?

4. Discuss various characters in the play as outsiders.

5. Does Desdemona bear any of the responsibility for the tragedy? Why or why not?

6. Does Othello fall as the result of a tragic flaw? Why or why not?

7. Should Othello be played by a black or white actor? Does it matter?

8. Discuss film adaptations of Shakespeare. Can they compete with stage versions? Are stage versions closer to the Shakespearean original?

9. Discuss Othello as villain and hero, paying special attention to his final speech.

10. Is Othello a noble moor or a dangerous savage? (You might want to give examples from a particular film to support your point of view.)

11. Discuss prejudice in Othello. What points do you think Shakespeare was attempting to make?

12. Why does Othello marry Desdemona? Why does she marry him? Was the destruction of the marriage inevitable or was Iago’s malice necessary?

Copyright 1997 by Ace G. Pilkington