Othello – Questions on Act 1 Scene 3

Political issues faced by the Venetians at the start of the scene: – A sailor tells them that the Turkish army are setting off to invade Rhodes instead of Cyprus (which was unexpected – possibly to mislead the Venetians) – Then another messenger says that the Turks have joined with more forces and are now heading back to Cyprus – Othello is told to prepare for war
What are Brabantio’s accusations? – He says to Othello he daughter has been ‘abused’ and ‘stol’n’ against her will. Apparently, this has all been done by ‘spells and medicines bought of mountebanks’ (dubious dealers) – Degrading to Othello – ‘this Moor’- He says Othello caused Desdemona ‘to fall in love with what she feared to look on’ – Accuses him of using witchcraft or black magic
How does Othello defend himself from Brabantio’s accusations? What is your impression of Othello? – Remains calm and collected – Admits to using magic, but if Brabantio allowed him to explain, he would show that he just used words and natural types of everyday magic- Not saying Brabantio is wrong- Says ‘Rude am I in my speech’. Putting himself down, saying he’s as articulate as Brabantio (flattery). Underplaying his abilities – Says ‘I won his daughter’ (Fair and square. She is an object now in my possession)
How is the courtship of Desdemona and Othello described? – Desdemona kept coming back ‘with a greedy ear’ (wanted to hear Othello’s stories)- Othello says Desdemona ‘loved me for the dangers I had passed/And I loved her that she did pity them’- Othello says Desdemona is ‘half the wooer’ (flirtatious, even though Brabantio seems to think she’s sweet and innocent and ‘blushed at herself’)
What impact is created by Desdemona’s ‘divided duty’ speech? – Desdemona’s loyality is split between Brabantio and Othello- Loyalty has moved from father to Othello (‘I am hitherto your daughter, but this is my husband’)- Says that her mother had to become loyal to Brabantio as she has to Othello (guilt-tripping, crafty) -Speaks fluently and articulately – Admits she has to be a submissive wife (‘My heart’s subdued/Even to the very quality of my lord’)