Othello Essay Questions

Essay must be at least five pages long with one primary source and four secondary sources. The maximum number of sources is one primary source and seven secondary sources. Follow MLA format and be sure to have a Works Cited at the end of your paper.



1. Examine the role of jealousy, love, and/or betrayal in the play. You may want to pick one character (Iago or Othello perhaps?) and focus on one issue.

2. It has been argued that Othello is accessible to us today because of the issues of racism, love, betrayal, and jealousy. Pick one and explain why Othello is accessible to us. Be careful, and be sure to talk about the play.

3. Examine the role of women in the play. Are they passive or direct or obedient or strong? Be careful because this is a big topic, and you may want to choose just one character.

4. Consider the warning of Desdemona’s father to Othello, and Othello’s response. Are the responses a foreshadowing of what is to come and Othello’s ultimate fate? Explain.

5. Consider the role of the handkerchief. How in the world can a small piece of cloth cause so much trouble?

6. Honest Iago tends to be like a “toxic friend.” Explain.

7. After Iago became Othello’s lieutenant, could he have ended his revenge at this point? Why or why not? Consider why he hates the Moor so much. Please do not state the obvious of the promotion—go deeper.

8. Why is Othello so quick to believe Iago? Does he truly love Desdemona?

9. Examine the relationship between Emilia and Iago and/or Desdemona and Othello. How does each couple love and/or hate each other? Explain. You may want to focus on only one couple.

10. Compare and/or contrast Emilia and Desdemona’s love for their husbands. You could focus on the issue of loyalty.

11. Examine the role of Emilia. She is the “undoing” of Iago through her honesty. Was she right to betray her husband for her lady? Whom did she serve? Herself? Desdemona? Her husband? Does she redeem herself in the end for stealing the handkerchief or did she get what she deserved for betraying her lady in the first place? Or did she betray her lady or duly serve her husband? Consider these questions in your answer.

12. Look at “Thinking About the Text” on p. 810. Answer 3,4, or 5.

13. If you feel strong about a topic that is not listed, come see me for discussion and approval.