Light Em English Question

Light Em English Question

  1. First, read Act 1 of Othello, including all the footnotes and definitions that explain references in the text & clarify certain lines.
  2. Then watch video depictions of the passage – those clips are posted below.
  3. Next, examine the passage that is the focus of this exercise (scroll to see it below) taken from Scene 3 in Act I. It is a famous and critical soliloquy in the play — sometimes called Iago’s “I hate the Moor” speech. You can also download the passage as a separate file here. Give it a close reading.
  4. Finally, complete this two-part Paraphrasing and Analysis Exercise – details below


1. The first video clip is Kenneth Branagh as Iago in a 1995 film adaptation of the play.

2. The second clip is from a 1990 production with Ian McKellen as Iago, and costumes evoking the Civil War era. Start at the 4:15 mark:

3. The third clip features Bob Hoskins as Iago in a 1981 BBC production:




Go to, farewell. Put money enough in your purse.


I’ll sell all my land.    <em><strong>(Exit)                         </strong></em> (365)                                 


Thus do I ever make my fool my purse.

For I mine own gained knowledge should profane

If I would time expend with such a snipe

But for my sport and profit. I hate the Moor,

And it is thought abroad that ’twixt my sheets   (370)

He’s done my office. I know not if ’t be true,

But I, for mere suspicion in that kind,

Will do as if for surety. He holds me well.

The better shall my purpose work on him.

Cassio’s a proper man. Let me see now,          (375)

To get his place and to plume up my will

In double knavery. How? How? Let’s see.

After some time, to abuse Othello’s ear

That he is too familiar with his wife.

He hath a person and a smooth dispose         (380)

To be suspected, framed to make women false.

The Moor is of a free and open nature

That thinks men honest that but seem to be so,

And will as tenderly be led by th' nose

As asses are.                                                          (385)

I have ’t. It is engendered! Hell and night

Must bring this monstrous birth to the world’s light.<em><strong>  (Exit)



PART I – Paraphrase the Passage in Contemporary Language

Required Length: It should be comparable in length to the original passage.

  • The paraphrase should demonstrate your understanding of the passage, so read closely, and establish comprehension before you begin to write.
  • Your paraphrase should be entirely in your own words, which means the language should be contemporary and true to the language of your social context, BUT at the same time, your paraphrase should be thorough, detailed, and accurate enough to reflect the important qualities of the original passage – its scope, significance, mood, tone and important details. Your m modern paraphrase should not be more general, broader, or more vague than the original.
  • Write your modern version of Iago in clear, direct, contemporary language that captures the spirit and intent of the original
  • Do NOT format your paraphrase as a conventional paragraph. Break your paraphrase into lines, as Shakespeare has done.
  • Study the EXAMPLE below: It’s a different passage taken from Othello. Shakespeare’s lines in the play have been paraphrased using contemporary language, while still maintaining the original’s tone, content, specificity, and intentions:


ORIGINAL PASSAGE: Emilia (to Cassio):

Good morrow, good lieutenant. I am sorry

For your displeasure: but all will sure be well.

The general and his wife are talking of it,

And she speaks for you stoutly…


Good morning, good lieutenant. I am sorry

about you falling out of favor, but I am sure it will all turn out okay.

The general and his wife are talking about it,

and she is advocating for you strongly…

PART 2 – Formalist Analysis of the Passage

Required Length: Approx. 6-10 sentences (1 paragraph). The ‘RECOMMENDED Materials’ (above) are good resources.

Beneath your modern paraphrase, write a brief but well-developed formalist analysis, discussing what is significant in this passage of the play. Remember: analysis is not summary or description.

  • Identify the type of language structure used in this passage. Is it blank verse? Rhyme? Prose? What does the type of verse contribute to meaning? (Use the reference guide listed above to assist you).
  • Draw conclusions about form, content and the relationship between the two. How are aspects of the form contributing to meaning?
  • Look up definitions and unfamiliar references. Even familiar words can have alternate meanings that are unknown to contemporary readers.
  • Identify formalist features, like literary devices – identify the presence of metaphor, visual imagery, language patterns and/or other elements that distinguish the way the passage is written
  • Discuss the passage’s role in the play – what makes it critical? Significant?
  • Note: Cite lines correctly as you quote from the passage; refer to the “How to Quote Shakespeare” handout (linked above).

First, read Act 1 of Othello, including all the footnotes and definitions that explain references in the text & clarify certain lines.Then watch video depictions of the passage – those

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