Othello Journals


Act II, Scene I, page 9

(aside) He takes her by the palm. Ay, well said, whisper! [Iago is quiet and wry. He is looking at Cassio and Desdemona, but not speaking to them; he is speaking to himself. With the second sentence, he smiles on the exclamation.]

With as little a web as this will I ensnare as great a fly as Cassio. [Iago is still talking to himself, however now he sounds much more sinister/forceful. With the force comes hand gestures.]

Ay, smile upon her, do, I will give thee in thine own courtship. [To Cassio, though Cassio can't hear him. This line should be spoken slowly with much emphasis; Iago should be tense with excitement.]

You say true, 'Tis so, indeed. If such tricks as these strip you out of your lieutenantry, it had been better you had not kissed your three fingers so oft, which now again you are most apt to play the sir in. [Still to Cassio. The built up excitement escapes in these lines - they should be spoken rapidly and forcefully. Continuing the feeling of excitement, Iago should be wide-eyed, increasing in tone, and leaning/taking a step towards Cassio.]

Very good, well kissed, and excellent courtesy! ’tis so, indeed. [Iago is back to a calm, articulate way of speaking. Throughout these lines he should be facing Cassio but not focused on him; Iago is talking to himself.]

Yet again your fingers to your lips? Would they were clyster-pipes for your sake! [Iago is back to talking to Cassio. For the first sentence he is smiling and talks with a mocking, incredulous tone (Iago thinks Cassio is a dunce). The second sentence, he is outright laughing at Cassio and Cassio's eminent demise. Extra emphasis on the last "your".]



[Note: D--- refers to Desdemona]

Act 3 Scene 3, Emilia is present when Cassio and Desdemona talk about Cassio’s position and then, in the same scene, she finds Desdemona’s handkerchief.

Act 3 Scene 4, Emilia says she doesn’t know anything about D----’s handkerchief when asked about it.

Act 5 Scene 2, Emilia is talking with Othello after he killed D----; she tells him he killed for nothing.

Emilia saw the role of the handkerchief unfold - she had a crucial part in this, as well. She also saw some of Iago’s plot for the other characters, and this is also where her connection to the handkerchief and Desdemona crop up. However, Emilia is not one of the major characters, and it is not apparent if she was receiving information from others. At the end, though, she did learn that Roderigo died and Cassio was attacked. She was also told by Othello that Iago was the one who was the informational source about Desdemona’s supposed infidelity.

Emilia had split loyalties for the vast majority of the play. This is seen especially in Act 3’s scene 4. She obviously has some sort of friendship or attachment to Desdemona - Emilia comforts her and gives advice when D---- is having problems with Othello. At the same time, Emilia did pick up the handkerchief for her husband, Iago. She also stays quiet about her brief possession of the handkerchief, possibly to keep Iago out of the fire.


Originally from Africa, Othello’s history and skin color set him apart from the rest of the Venetians in Othello. He was separated at an early age from his family and home in northern Libya (near Tripoli) by a group of radical fighters opposed to the Ottoman conquest of the area. He stayed, unwillingly, with that group for several years. Eventually he was sold into slavery, due to the radical group’s volatile nature. When Othello was a teenager he found himself close enough to the coast to take a ship to Italy - where he eventually won for himself a position in the military. He managed to survive and even prosper under such conditions.  His good name and relatively high standing in the military are even bigger achievements when the prejudices against him are taken into account. The bias and prejudice Othello had to face, which surely involved misinformation about him, probably led to his staunch opposition to gossip (at least, until Iago came along). Because of his background and skin color he was not accepted by many people. This can be seen by characters referring to him as ‘The Moor’, instead of an actual name. Also, throughout the play Othello was referred to as valiant and  other such terms; his bravery possibly stemmed from his living through the horrors of his younger years.


The prop for my character (Othello) is a foam sword. I picked a sword for several reasons: Othello is a general with combat experience, so it makes sense that he would stay armed; Othello seems very insecure due to the near constant discrimination against him, as well as his horrid beginnings- a sword is a symbol of power and masculinity. Keeping one by his side would both sooth his ego and let others know that he is the Bossman. For the reasons stated above, when Othello feels in charge and powerful, he is very cordial. When his vulnerabilities are not mollified in such a way, I think he becomes unstable.

Because Othello is so very insecure, when Iago begins lording the 'knowledge' that Desdemona may be sleeping around Othello hates not being in the know. And because Othello is unstable, when Iago dances around the issue it is possible that Othello would be on the edge of physically threatening Iago with the aforementioned sword. Other than that, my Othello would sound super-exasperated when talking with Desdemona (because she would be nagging him =[ ).

As a team, we worked out how our props would tie into the scene. This also relates to how we deliver our lines, so hopefully our dialogue will be well articulated.


Why, why is this?

Think’st thou I’d make a life of jealousy,

To follow still the changes of the moon

With fresh suspicions? No, Iago,

I’ll see before I doubt, when I doubt, prove,

And on the proof there is no more but this:

Away at once with love or jealousy!

This line is important because it is a snapshot of Othello’s view on justice and insinuations. At this point in the play Othello has not yet become dependant on Iago’s ‘guidance’ and information. He is telling Iago to stop telling him love-gossip to make him jealous. This line is also important for its stark contrast from Othello’s next line, where he is telling Iago to bring him more information. It is also particularly important to our performance because it shows my Othello’s transition from violent anger to something calmer and more controlled. This change in emotion may be reason as to why Othello’s lines are somewhat contradictory; he was filled with (self-)righteous anger and so he insisted that he isn't swayed by gossip. But then, when his mind cleared a bit, he realized he was interested in what Iago was insinuated about Othello's wife, and decided to ask for more information. As such, I tried to deliver the first part of the line with as much power and vehemence as possible, and the second part like I was trying to cover up a tentative attitude (because Othello still loves appearing to be in control).    

My group's performance did go as expected; though Richard and I did put a lot more effort in to the class performance versus the practices. I'm super proud of my group, since we really pulled through to become comfortable with the shakespearean language. I'm also proud of myself for actually articulating with inflection and energy. It is usually very difficult for me to present in front of a whole class, so I see this as progress =]

Performing the play forced me to really flesh out the characters and analyze why they acted the way they did. When we just read Othello as a class, I didn't look much deeper at Othello's personality and past; this benchmark, with the journals included, made me figure out what the scenes would actually sound like. Also, just watching the entire class perform, I really figured out the plot of Othello. There were some parts that were a bit spotty when I just read the lines in the book.