William Shakespeare, Othello
Lesson plans and other teaching resources
Teacher Guide to The Tragedy of The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice by William Shakespeare
How might students use storyboards to demonstrate and to extend their learning? Check the resources here. Includes plot diagram and summary, essential questions, character maps, Aristotelian elements of the tragic hero, themes, motifs and symbols, conflict analysis, vocabulary, more. Note: Storyboard That helps sponsor this site.
On this page, a tabloid-style summary of the play from the BBC. Follow links to learn how your students can produce something similar.
CliffsNotes Othello video
The play in a 7-minute cartoon updated for contemporary audiences. Includes introduction of major themes. A great pre-reading activity!
A Cultural Context for Othello
This essay provides background information.
Images of Othello: A Shakespearean WebQuest
Students examine the text of the play, then use online resources to see what Othello has looked like in previous productions. They write an essay explaining the type of actor who should play Othello today. Adobe Reader or compatible application required for access to the handout.
Teaching guide, including summary, prereading, discussion questions, journal prompts, analysis and suggestions for performance, bibliography. This extensive teaching guide requires Adobe Reader or compatible application for access.
Reading strategies, including an anticipation guide, a biopoem, and a writing task.
Background, suggestions for writing about the play, and extensive analysis. Scroll to the bottom for sample essay questions.
Othello, the Moor of Venice
Plot summary, themes, discussion of irony, essay topics, more.
Othello : ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre
Support materials for the updated version by Andrew Davies, set in London and featuring "New Scotland Yard in the era of race riots, neo-Nazis, and political spin." Scroll down for a link to teaching materials and other resources.
Othello Paraphrasing Worksheet
Students practice putting Shakespearean language into their own words. Designed for grades 5-8. 77 pages; word processor required. Consider using the document digitally or downloading it and printing only what students will use.
Othello vocabulary :Words are presented in context and with definitions. Click on a word for pronunciation, synonyms, more.
Shakespeare's Othello and the Power of Language
Students explore the relationship between Iago's use of language and his ability to manipulate others. This unit includes short group performances, writing exercises, and the guided use of online dictionaries and concordances to study Shakespeare's language.
A Teacher's Guide for The Merchant of Venice and Othello
Plot summary, pre-viewing activities, essay "On Race and Religion" and supporting activities, and a discussion of the difference a camera angle can make. These materials are provided by PBS as part of the ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre series.
That's Moor Like It!
Using resources available online from the New York Times, "students focus on the play Othello and its screen adaptation O to explore how modern adaptations of Shakespeare have the potential to both enhance the original text and detract from its meaning."
1. Discuss the role that race plays in Shakespeare’s portrayal of Othello. How do the other characters react to Othello’s skin color or to the fact that he is a Moor? How does Othello see himself?
2. Discuss the importance of setting in the play, paying close attention to physical details that differentiate Venice from Cyprus and that define the particular character of each location as it pertains to the plot of the play.
3. Discuss the role of Emilia. How does her character change during the course of the play? Pay particular attention to moments when Emilia decides to be silent and when she decides to speak. What is the effect of her silence about the handkerchief? Do we forgive this silence when she insists on speaking in spite of Iago’s threats in the final scene?
4. Do a close reading of one of Iago’s soliloquies. Point to moments in the language where Iago most gains an audience’s sympathy and moments where he most repels it. Pay close attention to the way in which Iago develops arguments about what he must and/or will do. To what extent are these arguments convincing? If they are convincing and an audience’s perception of Iago is sympathetic, what happens to its perception of Othello?
5. Analyze one or more of the play’s bizarre comic scenes: the banter between Iago and Desdemona in Act II, scene i; the drinking song in Act II, scene iii; the clown scenes (Act III, scenes i and iv). How do these scenes echo, reflect, distort, or comment on the more serious matter of the play?
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Othello (No Fear Shakespeare)
Othello (SparkNotes Literature Guide Series)