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Othello Act II Notes


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Othello Act II Notes

  1. 1. Act II
  2. 2. Act II Scene 1 A terrible storm has struck Cyprus, just as the Turks were about to approach.  This might mean that the Turkish attack will not happen; but it also bodes badly for Othellos ship. A messenger enters, and confirms that the Turkish fleet was broken apart by the storm, and that Cassio has arrived, though Othello is still at sea. They spot a ship coming forth; but Iago, Desdemona, and Emilia are on it, not Othello. Cassio greets them all, especially praising Desdemona; somehow, Iago and Desdemona enter into an argument about what women are Iago shows how little praise he believes women deserve. Othello arrives at last, and is very glad to see his wife arrived
  3. 3. Act II Scene 1  Othello and Desdemona make public signs of their love, and then depart. Iago speaks to Roderigo, convincing him that Desdemona will stray from Othello, as she has already done with Cassio. He convinces Roderigo to attack Cassio that night, as he plans to visit mischief on both Othello and Cassio.
  4. 4. Analysis: Storms  Storms are always of greater significance in Shakespeare:  the storm is a symbol of unrest  The storm marks the end of the peaceful part of the play, and is an act of fate  it is a signal that Iagos mischief is about to begin. Shakespeares characters that comment on the storm are mariners, alluding to Ursa Minor and stars used for navigation This is a testament to Shakespeares incredible ability to form credible language for a great diversity and range of characters.
  5. 5. Analysis: Cassio Just as every character has their own manner of speech and expression, Cassio has a very polished, courtly way  of speaking, especially of ladies. He describes Desdemona as one who "excels the quirks of blazoning pens"; he calls her "divine Desdemona" As Iago finds out later, he has no love for her, though much respect; so it is with much irony that Cassio is charged as being Desdemonas lover Othello sees Cassio as a model Venetian, all poise and polish, which is something Othello wants to be, but thinks he is not. Othellos insecurities mean that Cassio is promoted over Iago, but also lead Othello to hold Cassio at a distance.
  6. 6. Analysis: Women  Though Iago is married, he does not have as favorable an impression of women as Cassio does. Women are "wildcats in your kitchens, saints in your injuries, devils being offended“ He even declares that they "rise to play, and go to bed to work“ Iagos perception of women as deceptive, dominating, and lusty colors the way he portrays both Emilia and Desdemona; both are good women Desdemona exceedingly so, yet he is able to convince other men that they are anything but what they are.
  7. 7. Analysis: Misrepresentation Misrepresentation is a theme that surfaces often through Iagos villainy He makes Desdemona seem like a fickle, lusty  woman, which he will soon try to convince Othello of as well. Iagos speech plays on Othellos insecurities perfectly He speaks of Othellos age, race, and manners as reasons why Desdemona will grow tired of him, which are also reaons why Othello fears he might lose her. Iago is also a master of temptation, another theme in the story He is able to figure out exactly what people want, and then drive them to it.
  8. 8. Analysis: Motives  Though Iago seems grieved by Cassios promotion over him, this does not seem to be his main motive. Iago also cites his suspicions that Emilia and Othello have had an affair as another reason for his enmity. Iago is not a man to be consumed with sexual jealousy; though rumors about his wife may hurt his pride, they seem but an excuse for the misery he is about to cause. Shakespeare leaves the root of Iagos malignancy unexplained, while showing the fruits of his evil in full.
  9. 9. Act II Scene 2  Othellos herald enters, to proclaim that the Turks are not going to attack All should be joyful, and Othello is celebrating the happiness of his recent marriage.
  10. 10. Act II Scene 3 Iago gets Cassio to drink a bit, knowing that he cannot hold his liquor at all. Iago also tries to get Cassios feelings about Desdemona, but his intentions are innocent  Iago hopes to cause a quarrel between Cassio and Roderigo Iago wants to see Cassio discredited through this, so that he might take Cassios place. Cassio fights with Roderigo Montano tries to hinder Cassio, but Cassio ends up injuring him. The noise wakes Othello, who comes down to figure out what has happened. Montano tells what he knows of it all, and Iago fills in the rest making sure to fictionalize his part in it all. Cassio is stripped of his rank, and all leave Cassio and Iago alone.
  11. 11. Act II Scene 3 Iago tries to convince Cassio that a reputation means little  Iago suggests talking to Desdemona, maybe he can get her to vouch for him with Othello. This will help Iago get the impression across that Desdemona and Cassio are together Iago then gives a soliloquy about knowing that Desdemona will speak for Cassio, and that he will be able to turn that against them both.
  12. 12. Analysis: Honesty "Honest" emerges as a key word in this scene It is a term laden with irony, and a constant reminder of the dramatic irony inherent in Iagos dealings.  None of the characters in the play have any idea of Iagos plans and evil intentions:  Othello and Cassio are especially innocent of this knowledge.  The audience knows exactly what Iago is up to, and is able to see his deceptions for what they are  Iagos words interest the audience because of how much dramatic irony they are laden with  Curiosity to find out whether Cassio and Othello will come to know as much as the audience does about Iagos deviance. The word "honest" draws attention to how Iagos motives are hidden from the characters onstage
  13. 13. Analysis: Juxtaposition Iago and Cassio are juxtaposed in this scene to bring out Cassios flawed honor and courtliness and Iagos manipulativeness and deceptiveness.  Cassio stands in especially sharp contrast to Iago when Iago speaks lustfully of Desdemona Cassio is full of honor when it comes to women, and the ideals of a courtier as well. "Hes a soldier fit to stand by Caesar," Iago says, the allusion to Caesar stating the fact that he knows Cassios true quality. Iago strikes gold when he figures out Cassios weakness for drink "Hell be as full of quarrel and offense as my young mistress dog," Iago’ metaphor shows that he knows how liquor can separate even the best man from himself Iagos metaphor reinforces his perceptiveness, and the light/dark imagery
  14. 14. Analysis: Know the Audience Iagos homage to "sweet England" in his song of this act:  though this play does not take place in England   features no English characters  Shakespeare throws this in to amuse his audience. He does the same in plays like Hamlet, in which a little nod to England is thrown in for comic effect, and as an audience pleaser.
  15. 15. Analysis: Reputation Reputation is a theme in the book that obviously holds some resonance for Cassio  Iago also knows the importance of reputation, which is why he makes sure that people see him as "honest" before anything. "Reputation is a most idle and false imposition," Iago says:  this statement is meant as false consolation to Cassio, and is filled with great irony. Reputation is always of concern when individuals are involved
  16. 16. Analysis: Devil Cassio is so grieved that his reputation has been hurt that he sees fit to find a villain in all that has happened  Ironically, Cassio misses the identity of the real devil in this situation, Iago. "Devil" becomes a key word in this play, as people try to seek out what is poisoning everyone Good vs. evil is a major theme in the play There is a great deal of gray area:  Iago is the villain  Everyone else has some blemish of their natures  No one entirely deserving of the label "good".
  17. 17.  Adapted from: