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William Shakespeare


Act 1, Scene 3
lines 30 - 47
News of the Turkish attack!

Keith Tankard
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, in his defence against Brabantio's accusations, denies any use of magic but explains to the assembled dignitaries that Brabantio had often invited him to his house where he questioned him in great eagerness for the stories of his life.

These stories encompassed all the vivid imaginings of the Elizabethan era. There were tales of slavery and cannibalism, descriptions of men whose heads were below their shoulders.

Desdemona had listened to these weird and wonderful stories, and 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 acted upon.

When Desdemona is brought to testify, she professes her loyalty to her father but also her undying love for Othello, whom she refers to as her husband. Brabantio accepts this evidence but his attitude remains niggardly and bitter.

Indeed, when it is soon learned that Othello must immediately depart for Cyprus to command the defence of the island, Brabantio refuses to allow his daughter to return to his house. Instead, Desdemona is granted permission to accompany her husband to the defence of Cyprus.

Othello is to leave for Cyprus that very night but he leaves Desdemona in the care of Iago, who will follow the next day. In the meantime, Roderigo becomes suicidal at the realisation that he has lost Desdemona forever.

He is thereupon persuaded to follow Othello to Cyprus where Iago promises to hatch a plan to get Desdemona back -- for which he will expect handsome payment in return ("put money in your purse").

We eventually learn that Iago plans to persuade Othello that his wife is being unfaithful to him by sleeping with Michael Cassio, the Moor's faithful lieutenant. In this way, Iago believes he will get even with both Othello and Michael Cassio, using Desdemona as the innocent pawn in his evil game.

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

"The Ottomites, reverend and gracious,
Steering with due course toward the isle of Rhodes,
Have there injointed them with an after fleet."
  • Who are the "Ottomites"? (2)

[Need help?]

  • Why should the Ottomites be "reverend and gracious"? (2)

[Need help?]

  • What is meant by "The Ottomites . . . have there injointed them with an after fleet"? (2)

[Need help?]

"And now they do re-stem
Their backward course, bearing with frank appearance
Their purposes toward Cyprus."
  • Explain exactly what the intentions of the Ottomites were. (4)

[Need help?]

" 'Tis certain, then, for Cyprus.
Marcus Luccicos, is not he in town?"
  • Why does the Duke want to send for Marcus Luccicos and not for Othello? (2)

[Need help?]

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