What is the logic of saying there are two main characters in this play?
One of the unique aspects of the play Othello is that Shakespeare does not invest his tragic hero, Othello, with the same characteristics as many of his other characters. For example, Othello does not have a task to complete by the end of the play, in contrast to Hamlet who is attempting to catch his father's murderer or Macbeth, who is taking over Scotland. On the contrary, in Othello, the character who is seeking to finish tasks and accomplish a goal is Iago, whose goal is to bring about Othello's downfall by causing him to suspect his wife, Desdemona, of infidelity. In addition to Iago's quest being the driving force behind the story, he can also be considered a hero of the play simply by looking at the amount of time and energy that the play spends on Iago.
What is the conflict and give a specific example of textual evidence revealing it?
The central conflict in the play Othello is the conflict between appearance and reality. When Cassio gets drunk and wounds Montano, it appears to be Cassio's fault, but is actually Iago's. Desdemona has the appearance of purity, but Othello's account of their courtship makes it clear that she pursued him. The fact that Desdemona's handkerchief is found in Cassio's room supports the idea that they had an affair, but it was planted there because of Iago's scheming.
3. What forms of irony are evident in Othello and give examples of each.
Verbal, dramatic, and situational irony are all present in Othello. Dramatic irony is evident in Othello every time that Iago speaks to the audience, because it is through these asides that one sees that Iago's actions and intentions are not aligned. Other examples of dramatic irony in Othello include: (1) Othello is renowned as a good man, but he commits a heinous crime; and (2) Othello falls in love with Desdemona because of her purity, but kills her because he suspects her of infidelity. The most obvious examples of verbal irony in Othello come when Othello is speaking of his plans to kill Desdemona: he continues to speak of her in terns of purity and whiteness, despite the fact that he plans to kill her due to her alleged infidelities. The whole framework of the play revolves around situational irony; as a Moor, Othello experienced tremendous racial discrimination and prejudice, yet he is the most prejudiced character in the play and kills his wife as a result of that prejudice.
4. At what point does Othello reveal his conflict/climax?
Othello reveals his conflict in Act V, scene II, shortly after he has murdered Desdemona. However, Othello's conflict does not come as a surprise. The entire play is about Iago's attempts to get Othello to believe that Desdemona has been unfaithful. Furthermore, Othello is frequently seen talking to himself about his desire or need to murder Desdemona before he finally does so. In fact, he first strikes Desdemona in Act II, scene III, and it is at that time that Desdemona begins to realize that Othello will cause her death.
5. In what ways is the handkerchief a perfect instrument for Iago's purpose?
The handkerchief is the perfect instrument for Iago's purpose because, like Desdemona herself, a handkerchief is perfectly innocent. There is absolutely nothing inherently sinister in another man possessing a woman's handkerchief. In fact, of the many thousands of ways that Cassio could have come into possession of Desdemona's handkerchief, only a handful of them would signal wrongdoing on the part of Desdemona. However, Iago is able to use Desdemona's ignorance of the fact that Cassio is now in possession of her handkerchief to help create the fiction that Desdemona has been having an…