What do these explanations reveal about the power and danger of language?

Words: 298
Pages: 2
Subject: English


This week you’ve read Othello, taken some guided reading notes, and participated in a number of discussions.

For your short paper, respond to one of the following:

  1. The play is full of people explaining themselves to others: Othello wooing Desdemona with his life story, or explaining how he won her love to her angry father; Iago explaining how Cassio got into a fight; Iago grudgingly explaining why he thinks Desdemona is unfaithful; or Othello explaining his actions to the horrified Venetians at the end
  2. .What do these explanations reveal about the power and danger of language?
  3. Readers frequently say that Othello is gullible – that his own insecurity must have made him vulnerable to Iago’s persuasion. Do you agree? Look at the way Iago gets Othello to fall into a state of confusion: what quality in Othello do you think he is exploiting?
  4. A character in another play says, sorrowfully, of a friend turned traitor, that “there’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face” – in other words, that there’s no way to tell what a person is really like. – How does this apply to Iago? Look at the way he talks to other people, and the way he talks when he’s alone. What motivates him, do you think? Why is he so good at fooling everyone?
  5. Pick one of the questions from the discussion boards (character, scene, theme, speech) that got your interest. Develop your response into a coherent discussion (include quotes and details).

Your paper should:

  • present and explain a clear, single thesis that addresses your chosen question, with an organized explanation;
  • give concrete, specific examples (including direct quotes) drawn from Othello;
  • reflect careful, active reading as outlined in the tutorials (i.e., reading, poetry and drama strategies);