Othello: Whose Line Is It Anyway?

The graph below denotes the rise and fall of power for three key characters in ‘Othello’: Othello, Desdemona and Iago. You can use it to support your revision in lots of ways.

  • Remind yourself of plot and key quotes: what is happening of importance in each scene?
  • Review structure: what patterns do you notice and howm might they create meaning?
  • Evaluate: Which line do you think denotes each character? How far do you agree with this interpretation of power in the play? What might support / challenge this interpretation of power in the play?
  • Create your own graphs: trace the development of themes such as jealousy, prejudice or gender; alternatively, you could rate Othello’s status as a tragic hero, charting his falling status, considering what patterns you notice as the key themes of the play develop. How is the development of theme linked to the genre of Tragedy?





‘Othello’ discussion points

Three ways to use these discussion points:

  • Discuss the following statements. Your aim is to establish your argument in relation to each discussion point and use analysis of the text to support your interpretation.
  • Create flash cards for each statement. Put the discussion point on one side and your ideas and key quotations on the other – then test yourself or a friend.
  • You could also use these statements as practice essay questions. Just ask yourself: how far do you agree that…


  1. Othello’s race is more important than his religion in the play.
  2. Othello’s race impacts his actions significantly.
  3. Wives and husbands have negative relationships in Othello.
  4. Iago’s misogynism is clear throughout the play.
  5. Shakespeare presents an enlightened view of women throughout the text.
  6. Desdemona’s only function is that of hapless victim.
  7. Emilia and Desdemona have opposing views of men.
  8. Othello does not love Desdemona; he is entirely narcissistic.
  9. The violent end of the relationship between Othello and Desdemona is foreshadowed from the start of the play.
  10. Othello is a tragic hero.
  11. Iago’s revenge is frustrating as he has no clear motive.
  12. Iago is more of a jealous character than Othello.
  13. Desdemona’s goodness is unquestionable throughout.
  14. Othello’s suicide strengthens his heroism.
  15. Othello’s pride is his biggest weakness.
  16. The relationship between Cassio and Bianca is healthier than any other in the play.
  17. Desdemona is a victim of patriarchy, not of Othello.
  18. Location is significant to the play’s meanings and plot.
  19. Shakespeare reinforces the status quo of his world through the Tragedy.
  20. The humour created in Othello reinforces the bigger themes and ideas within the play.
  21. Othello exposes the prejudices of its audience.
  22. Social expectations are more significant than race in the play.
  23. Iago only succeeds because he is lucky: it is fate which dooms Othello.
  24. Appearance and reality is the most important theme in the play.
  25. Shakespeare uses character pairs to effectively create meanings in Othello.