Othello settings

Act 1.1 Venice street, outside Brabantio’s house.NIGHT Night as the setting is foreboding for the audience due to Iago and Roderigo being present on stage discussing the promotion/marriage. Entirety of Act 1 takes place at night much like Act 5. Darkness acts as a motif throughout the play as the majority of the tragic events take place at night in contrast to the climax of happiness in Cyprus in the daytime. Allows concealment as Brabantio is oblivious to Iago’s presence. Tense atmosphere emphasised by “is all your family within?” “Are your doors locked?” creates paranoia for Brabantio “light, I say light”
Act 1.2 Venice street outside Sagittary Inn.NIGHT Opens with Othello and Iago informing him of Brabantio’s anger. Also, set in the dark to reinforce tension as there is a looming threat of Brabantio’s arrival. “What lights come yond?” Confrontation between Othello and Brabantio where Othello diffuses the situation, challenged in the dark.
Act 1.3 Venice, council chambersNIGHT Interrupted meeting of the Duke organising the military by the domestic matter. Light brought into this scene. True danger of the external threat introduced. Significant to the tragedy as it leads to the journey to Cyprus external threat is about to be overcome yet the internal threat becomes greater.
Act 2.1 Cyprus sea-port, open place near the quay. DAY Scene takes place in the brightness of the day which emphasises the height of happiness felt by Desdemona and Othello being reunited. “They are drowned. It is impossible to bear it out” severity of the storm emphasised as it completely destroys the external threat of the Turkish fleet. “our wars are done” “grievous wreck and sufferance” significant as the internal remains which heightens fear for the audience.
Act 2.2 Herald, proclamation.
Act 2.3 Cyprus, hall in the castleNIGHT Darkness is again used as the setting for events/crises which bring the audience closer to the tragic destination. Cassio’s downfall as he loses the lieutenancy “never more be an officer of mine” progression of Iago’s scheming as he pursues Roderigo which is witnessed by all.
Act 3.1 Cyprus, before the castleDAY Clowns and musicians provide comic relief after the downfall of Cassio, sent by him to attract Othello’s attention. Open setting with no privacy yet secrecy continues as Iago vows to get Desdemona to speak with him by sending Emilia. “Give me advantage of some brief discourse with Desdemon alone”
Act 3.2 Cyprus, room in castleDAY Outdoors in the daytime yet threat is present as character of Othello remains oblivious. Irony in the discussion of “fortification” as the strength/defence of the castle can’t protect him from the internal threat of Iago.
Act 3.3 Cyprus, garden of the castleDAY Setting for the temptation scene which is significant to the tragedy as it occurs outside of the castle where the eventual tragic destination occurs. Being inside of the castle would imply protection yet the threat is contained within the castle walls. Garden would suggest peace and tranquility in contrast this is the backdrop for Desdemona and Othello to argue as Iago is convincing him to be jealous.
Act 3.4 Cyprus, before the castleDAY Handkerchief scene, builds tension as the audience are already aware of its absence (dramatic irony) still within the ‘safety’ of the castle yet the jealousy takes over.
Act 4.1Cyprus, before the castleDAY Setting for Othello’s breakdown after overhearing conversation, setting allows “Othello withdraws” can conceal his presence even though Cassio is talking about Bianca, pace increased towards the tragic destination.
Act 4.2 Cyprus, room in the castle DAY Scene begins indoors yet Roderigo’s entrance implies that they are now outside. Sense of privacy concerning Othello’s questioning of Emilia, private doubt only explicitly expressed to Desdemona when he doesn’t allow her to respond, fate decided. Plot to kill Cassio also made here by Roderigo and Iago, secrecy and deceit.
Act 4.3 Cyprus, Room/Desdemona’s bedroomNIGHT Beginning of this scene, action takes place in a public room but then becomes the more private setting of Desdemona’s bedroom. Intimate setting for the Willow scene conveys the vulnerability of Desdemona who unknowingly prepares herself for her death bed as she awaits Othello’s arrival. Undressing further emphasises this idea, darkness again indicates the looming tragic destination.
Act 5.1 Cyprus, streetNIGHT Again takes place at night, fear increased as the darkness is symbolic of tragedy. May link to Iago’s “hell and night” imagery as his actions are explicitly malignant to the audience yet concealed by the dark. Much like Act 1 the entirety of the plays climax takes place at night.
Act 5.2 Cyprus, Othello and Desdemona’s bedroomNIGHT Intimate setting becomes public as the majority of characters are on stage, reinforces the play as a domestic tragedy, marital bedroom. Suggests the darkness is symbolic of the chaotic series of events which follow. Allows for the deception to be finally revealed in a place where privacy is invaded.