Othello Questions and Answers
- Who was Othello? How did he rise to the rank of a general?
Ans. Othello was a Moor, and a dark complexioned nobleman. He was a soldier, and a valiant one. He had fought many hard battles and won many victories. Therefore, he was greatly honoured in the Venetian army. He was well-known for his courage and bravery.
Othello took part in bloody wars against the Turks, like a hero. He won the wars by his skill and talent. For those heroic performances, he had risen to the rank of the general in the Venetian service. He was highly esteemed and praised not only by the senate, but also by the people throughout the state of Venice.
- What stories did Desdemona like to hear from Othello?
ANS. Desdemona liked to hear from Othello the stories of his adventure. The stories were of the battles, sieges and encounters. He would tell Desdemona how he had overcome perils, how he entered a breach, how he escaped, how he marched up to the mouth of a cannon, how he had been captivated by the insolent enemy and sold as a slave, etc. Othello would also tell Desdemona that, in foreign countries, he had seen the vast wilderness and the romantic caverns, the quarries, the rocks, lofty mountains touching the clouds, the savage nations, etc. Othello also told Desdemona stories of the cannibals, and of the Anthropophagi in Africa whose heads grow beneath their shoulders.
- What strange things did Othello see in foreign countries? What did Desdemona wish hearing Othello’s story of life?
ANS. Othello was a great traveller. While travelling, he saw many strange things in foreign countries. He saw the vast wilderness and romantic caverns. He saw the quarries, the rocks and lofty mountains touching the clouds, the savage nations, etc. He also saw the cannibals who are man-eaters, and of the Anthropophagi in Africa whose heads grow beneath their shoulders.
Desdemona heard the story of Othello’s travel with great attention. Hearing the story, Desdemona wished that it would have been better if Othello had a friend who loved her. If Othello had a friend, he had only to teach him how to tell his story, and that would woo Desdemona.
- Describe how Desdemona fell in love with Othello.
ANS. Desdemona was the beautiful and gentle daughter of Brabantio, the rich senator of Venice. The noble lady regarded mind more than the features of man. She chose Othello, a Moor, a black as suitor. He was a soldier, a brave one. Brabantio loved him also, and often invited him to his house, Desdemona loved to hear the story of Othello’s adventures. After the story was over, Desdemona would sigh deeply and thank him, and wished that if had a friend who loved her, it would have been better. Othello had only to teach him how to tell his story. It was certainly a hint, and it proved that Desdemona fell in love with Othello.
- What did Brabantio allege against Othello?
ANS. Desdemona married Othello secretly. The news of their marriage could not be kept a secret for long. It spread everywhere. At last, that news reached old Brabantio, Desdemona’s father. Though Brabantio had a broad mind, it could not be hoped that he would accept Othello as his son-in-law. He appeared before the duke of Venice, the chief judge, as an accuser of Moor Othello. He reported that Othello had seduced the affections of the beautiful Desdemona by spells and witchcraft. Moreover, he married Desdemona without having the consent of him. So, he wanted Othello to be punished according to the laws of Venice.
- Why was Othello summoned before the Senate?
ANS. Brabantio, Desdemona’s father, accused Othello for marrying Desdemona without taking the consent of him. He accused that Othello seduced the affections of the beautiful Desdemona by spells and witchcraft. He prayed to the Duke of Venice for justice. Meanwhile, the state of Venice faced a crisis because the Turks were advancing with a fleet to regain the island of Cyprus from the Venetians. In this state of emergency, Othello was considered to be the only most competent General who could defend the Turks. So, Othello was summoned before the senate both as a candidate for noble employment, and as a culprit charged with offences by Senator Brabantio.
- When did Brabantio accept Othello as his son-in-law? What was his message of warning to Othello?
ANS. Othello married Desdemona, Brabantio’s daughter, secretly. It made Brabantio infuriated, and he lodged a complaint against Othello in the assembly of the Senators before the Duke. Othello was asked to give explanation. Othello admitted that he won Desdemona’s heart by his art of telling a sort story. Appearing in the assembly Desdemona confirmed the statement of Othello. She acknowledged that she had been dutiful to her father, and now she was more dutiful to Othello, her husband. Being unable to maintain his plea, Brabantio accepted Othello as his son in-law.
Brabantio’s message of warning to Othello was that Desdemona might deceive him one day as she had deceived her father.
- Why did Desdemona go to Cyprus with Othello? Why was the service of Othello not required in Cyprus?
ANS. As general, Othello’s service was required in the Venetian army to defend Cyprus against the invasion of the Turks. In the meantime, Othello had to face a trial in the assembly of the Duke for marrying Desdemona secretly. After winning the trial, Othello was ready to go to the war in Cyprus. Desdemona wanted to go with Othello because she refused to stay with her father anymore. She boldly declared that she had loved the Moor to live with him.
As soon as Othello and Desdemona landed in Cyprus, the news went round that the Turkish fleet had been dispersed by a violent tempest. Hence, the service of Othello was not required anymore.
- Why did Othello use Cassio in his love affair with Desdemona?
ANS. Michel Cassio was a young Florentine soldier and the best friend of Othello. He gained Othello’s confidence. He was amorous, and his pleasing nature always attracted the women. He was handsome and eloquent. Othello was a person of serious temper. Cassio’s free and rattling talk pleased Othello much. Moreover, Othello was free from any kind of jealousy as he was noble in heart. He never suspected anyone doing a base action. He feared that he lacked the amorous qualities of Cassio that would please ladies. That is why Othello considered Cassio as a fit person to be deputed to Desdemona in his love affair.
- Who was lago? Why did lago conspire to take revenge against Othello?
ANS. lago was an elder nobleman to the Venetian army. He was artful and crafty. He studied human mind deeply
lago got extremely irritated when Othello had recently promoted Cassio to the rank of lieutenant. The rank of lieutenant was a place of trust and nearest to the general. According to him, Cassio could not desire it at all because he knew little of the art of warfare; he only preferred the company of the ladies. Iago hated Cassio for that. He also began to hate Othello for favouring Cassio. Moreover, Iago had an unjust suspicion that Othello was fond of his wife, Emilia. So, he initiated conspiracy against Othello.
- What did Cassio do coming under lago’s enticement? What happened after that?
ANS. Iago enticed Cassio to have a drink. Though Cassio knew, drinking wine was a great fault for an officer on guard, yet he soon he fell into the guile of lago. He drank glass after glass.
Having over-drunk, Cassio totally lost control over him. In the meantime, lago started provoking Cassio. Provoked, Cassio praised Desdemona, and got involved in a scuffle. A worthy officer named Montano rushed to the spot to pacify the dispute, but he was wounded Having taken the advantage of the situation, lago spread the alarm causing the castle bell to be rung as if a riot had set in. Othello arrived there instantly. As he was a strict disciplinarian, he discharged Cassio from his post of lieutenant.
- What did Iago advise Cassio to regain the favour of Othello?
ANS. When Cassio got back his senses from the drunken condition, he lamented the decline of his morality. He expressed his sorrow to lago, his seeming friend. He also lamented because he had lost his reputation as well as the immortal part of himself for ever. He went on despising himself for his base action. He began to think how he could ask Othello for his place again. At that time, Lago came upon with his advice. The advice was that Cassio should ask Desdemona to persuade Othello for him. It might be expected that Desdemona would do something for him, and help him back his job.
- When did Othello promise to receive Cassio again in his favour?
ANS. According to lago’s advice, Cassio made an appeal to Desdemona to persuade Othello for doing him a favour as he had realised his fault. Desdemona promised Cassio. She presented the matter to Othello very earnestly and in a pretty manner. Though Othello was mortally offended with Cassio, he could not avoid Desdemona’s appeal. She reminded Othello how Cassio met her with Othello’s message of love, and when she had spoken in dispraise of Othello, how he had always taken his part. Moreover, the offence made by Cassio, did not deserve the punishment of discharge. Hearing such an earnest appeal, Othello promised to receive Cassio back again.
- How did lago plant the seed of suspicion in Othello mind?
ANS. Othello regarded lago as a just man, full of love and honesty. In course of events Othello and Iago entered the room where Cassio had been requesting Desdemona to plead to Othello for his Te-instatement. Having seen them approaching Cassio departed hurriedly. lago did not like Cassio’s departure in that way. He asked Othello if Cassio knew anything of his courtship with Desdemona. After having received positive answer, Iago behaved so, it seemed there was something secret in it. Othello demanded lago to speak what he knew.lago denied because it could destroy Othello’s peace of mind. But those hints created suspicion in Othello’ min
- What were the arguments shown by Iago that moved Othello much?
ANS. Othello informed lago that his fair wife loved company, and if lago wanted to mean his wife was dishonest, he must give him proof. lago begged him that he did not have any proof. But he did not believe the Italian ladies, and so asked Othello to observe Desdemona’s behaviour in presence of Cassio Iago knew that the Venetian ladies would let the world see their pranks but they dared not show their husbands. He artfully reminded Othello that Desdemona’s father thought it a witchcraft when she had married him secretly. In this way Desdemona deceived her father. Hearing those arguments, Othello was much moved.
- What did Iago remind Othello and what did he a advise Othello?
ANS. When lago saw Othello to be moved much by his argument, he begged Othello apology for having done it. He begged to conceal his evil intention. By his cleverness, he behaved in such a way as if Cassio was honest. Now he reminded Othello that probably Desdemona was feeling Sorry for neglecting suitable matches of her own clime and complexion after marrying him. That is why she was unnatural in her behaviour. Probably when her better judgement would return, she would perhaps fall in love with white complexioned young Italian. lago, therefore, advised Othello to put off his reconcilement with Cassio a little longer.
- When did Othello threaten to kill lago?
ANS. The moment lago started confusing Othello by planting the seed of suspicion in his mind, Othello never tasted peace of mind. The thought of suspicion upset Othello in all his activities. He did not find delight in arms. He seemed to have lost all the pride and ambitions which are the virtues of a soldier. Sometimes he thought Desdemona to be honest. Again he wondered Desdemona was not. At times he thought lago to be just, but at times he thought just the opposite He could neither suspect Desdemona, nor Cassio without any proof. In such a restless condition of mind, Othello threatened to kill lago if he failed to give any proof.
- What did Iago say to Othello when his honesty was challenged ? How did lago collect his evidence?
ANS. When Othello challenged the honesty of lago, lago asked him if Othello had lately seen the handkerchief with strawberry spotted in his wife Desdemona’s hand. He had seen Cassio wipe his face with it that day.
lago knew very well that the handkerchief spotted with strawberries was Othello’s first gift to Desdemona. He thought if he could manage it anyhow, it would help him to achieve his fidelity to Othello. He did it successfully by sending his wife Emilia to Desdemona. As he was shrewd, he used Emilia to steal the handkerchief from Desdemona and drop it in Cassio’s way. In this way, lago wanted to prove that Desdemona herself presented the handkerchief to Cassio.
- Why could not Desdemona give Othello the strawberry spotted handkerchief? What was magical about the handkerchief?
ANS. One day Othello pretended that he had a headache. He wanted a handkerchief from Desdemona to hold it on to his temples. She gave Othello one. But Othello demanded that strawberry spotted handkerchief which he had given her. Desdemona could not give it as it was not in her possession
Othello got the handkerchief from his mother. An Egyptian woman, who was a charmer, gave it to Othello’s mother. That charmer told Othello’s mother it would make her.
- What role did the handkerchief play in ruining Desdemona’s life?
Ans. Othello had given Desdemona a handkerchief spotted with strawberries as his first gift after their marriage. It was a magical handkerchief. An Egyptian woman gave it to Othello’s mother. That woman told Othello’s mother, that if she lost it, or give it away, his father might hate her mother as much as he had loved her. When Othello wanted that handkerchief from Desdemona to hold it on to his temples as he had a headache, Desdemona was ready to die with fear because she plainly perceived she had lost it. She feared that she had lost the love of her husband, and Othello might kill her thinking it an act of jealousy.
- Describe the murder scene of Desdemona.
ANS. When Othello charged Desdemona with unfaithfulness, she was so perplexed with wonder that a weight like sleep came over her. She went to bed, and soon fell asleep. Othello returned shortly and entered the room. Desdemona was awakened by his kisses. When she looked at Othello, she saw him gnaw his lips and roll his eyes. Othello told her to prepare for death. When asked about her fault, Othello named Cassio whom she had given the handkerchief. The innocent lady was trying to say she was guiltless, but Othello would hear no more. He covered her up in bed clothes, and strangled her to death.
- Why did Othello kill himself?
ANS. Immediately after the murder of Desdemona Cassio appeared before Othello, Wounded and bleeding. It was because Iago had set one of his men to assassinate Cassio. That man was unable to kill Cassio. On the other hand, lago killed that man to prevent discovery of truth Some letters were found in the pockets of man, which proved that lago was guilty. It was clear that Cassio was innocent. This discovery was like a thunder stroke to Othello, He came to realize that his poor innocent wife had been really faithful to him. He was now no better than a murderer. Out of extreme mental anguish Othello killed himself and tell upon the life body of his dear wife.
- What led Desdemona to marry Othello?
ANS. Desdemona was the beautiful and gentle daughter of Brabantio, the rich senator of Venice. In her own clime and complexion, she found none who could be her suitor. The noble lady regarded the mind more than the appearance and complexion of man. She chose Othello, a Moor, a black as her suitor. Othello had risen to the rank of general in the Venetian service by his skill and talent in the bloody wars against the Turks. Desdemona loved to hear the story of Othello’s adventures. She sighed deeply for the pain of Othello. Her pity and sympathy gradually turned into love for Othello, and finally she married Othello.
- How did Othello overcome the fury of Brabantio after marrying Desdemona?
ANS. Brabantio, became extremely angry to see Othello’s audacity to marry his daughter secretly. He accused Othello in outrageous manner in the assembly of the senators. Hence, Othello was called upon for his defence. He plainly narrated the story of his love. Othello said in artless eloquence that there was no trickery in it. The spells and conjurations that he had used in his courtship simply appeared to have been nothing but the honest arts of wooing. The only witchcraft that he had used, was the art of telling a soft story to win the heart of a lady. Othello’s eloquence pleased not only every senator, but also the Duke.
- Why did Othello decide to kill Desdemona and himself?
ANS. Othello had given Desdemona a magical handkerchief spotted with strawberries as his first gift after their marriage. It was a symbol of love. But one day lago reported Othello that he had seen Cassio wipe his face with that handkerchief. Hearing it, Othello pretended one day that he had headache, and wanted that handkerchief from his wife to hold it on to him temples. It was not with Desdemona. At once Othello charged her unfaithfulness, and decided to kill her. After killing Desdemona, it had been clear to Othello that Cassio was innocent, and the culprit was lago. Out of extreme mental anguish, Othello decided to kill himself.
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