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William Shakespeare


Act 1, Scene 3
Easy questions to cut your teeth on!

Abigail Meredith
Updated: 22 January 2014
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The scene opens with messages that Cyprus is about to be attacked by the Turks of the Ottoman Empire.

Into the midst of this excitement comes Brabantio to appeal to the Duke for justice at Othello's elopement with Desdemona. He accuses the Moor of seducing his daughter through magical spells and drugs.

Othello defends himself in that it was merely his stories of the battlefield -- and of the strange people whom he encountered -- which had won Desdemona to him.

Desdemona, upon being summoned, confirms Othello's innocence. Since Brabantio will not have her back into his house, however, she is forced to follow Othello to Cyprus.

In the meantime, Iago hatches his plot to revenge himself on Othello, as well as to win Desdemona over to Roderigo.


Othello, in his defence, denied any use of magic but explained to the assembled dignitaries that Brabantio had often invited him to his house where he had questioned him in great eagerness for the stories of his life.

Othello's stories encompassed all the vivid imaginings of the Elizabethan era: tales of slavery and cannibalism, descriptions of men whose heads were situated below their shoulders, who had eyes in their chests.

Remember, of course, that few Elizabethan people had travelled even beyond their own village. Tales of the imagination would therefore have been readily believed.

Desdemona had listened to these weird and wonderful stories, and had imagined herself involved in them. She had even hinted to Othello that she would like to marry such a man as he, a hint that Othello had acted upon and they had eloped together.

When Desdemona herself was brought to testify, she professed her loyalty to her father but also her undying love for Othello, whom she referred to as her husband. Brabantio accepted this evidence but his attitude remained niggardly and bitter.

Indeed, when it was soon learnt that Othello must immediately depart for Cyprus to command the defence of the island, Brabantio refused to allow his daughter even to return to his house.

Instead, she was granted permission to accompany her husband to the defence of Cyprus, and in the meantime was placed in the custody of Iago.

Have you looked at the questions
in the right column?
Read the left column and then answer
the following questions:

Read the following and fill in the missing words:

This scene opens with the Duke and Senators of Venice discussing the conflicting reports that they are hearing in connection with the fleet movements of the 1.__________ Navy. They agree that the reports are inconsistent but it is clear that the Turks are heading for 2.__________.

Brabantio and Othello enter the stage. Brabantio says that 3.__________ has been stolen away from him and corrupted, as she would not have gone naturally of her own free will. The Duke promises Brabantio that the person would be punished by the rule of 4.__________ even if it is his own son. Brabantio then points to Othello as the culprit.

Brabantio states that his daughter is a quiet and virtuous person and it is unbelievable that she would go against the laws of nature to be seduced by a 5.__________ whom she was 6.__________ to even look at and so, the only possible explanation is 7.__________.

Desdemona enters the stage. Othello and Brabantio both request that the Duke listen to what she has to say. Desdemona replies that she is divided in her sense of duty as she respects her father but she owes more 8.__________ to her husband Othello. The Council then turns to State Affairs as the Duke explains to Othello that a large Turkish fleet is heading to Cyprus and as he knows the capability of the fortifications there, he would be in charge and has to leave that night.

Desdemona tells all present that she is in love with Othello's inner qualities and she has devoted her soul to his honourable nature and wishes to accompany him to Cyprus. The Duke tells Othello to leave an officer behind who will carry further orders from the state to him in Cyprus. Othello chooses 9.__________ whom, he says, is a man of honesty and trust. Iago is left alone and from his thoughts we learn that he hates Othello because he suspects that Othello had slept with his own wife, 10.__________.

[Need help?]

Decide whether each of the following statements is TRUE or FALSE, or whether there is NOT ENOUGH EVIDENCE to decide.
  • Othello has slept with Emilia.

[Need help?]

  • Iago has slept with Emilia.

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  • Iago is jealous of Michael Cassio.

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  • Desdemona is a flirtatious, wanton woman.

[Need help?]

  • Roderigo paid Iago to break up Othello's marriage.

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  • Othello wants everyone to celebrate his wedding.

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  • Michael Cassio is an alcoholic.

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  • It was customary to kiss a woman's hand.

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  • Roderigo and Othello are the only men who love Desdemona.

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