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ANSWERS

TEST 1

1. A

2. C

3. B

4. B

5. A

6. C

7. C

8. B

9. B

10. A

11. The handkerchief belongs to Desdemona. It was Othello's first gift to her. She drops it accidentally and Emilia picks it up to give it to Iago, who has made several urgent requests that she steal it for him. Iago plans to use it as proof of Desdemona's adultery with Cassio. He plants it in Cassio's room, where Cassio finds it and gives it to Bianca to copy for him. Iago tells Othello that he has seen Cassio with the handkerchief. Othello quizzes Desdemona about it, but she lies, unaware of its importance and says she still has it, but can't produce it. Othello sees her lie as proof that she's unfaithful, and when he later sees Bianca return it to Cassio, the handkerchief serves as the "visible proof" he's been looking for. Othello then vows Desdemona must die.


12. Othello is open, honest, and trusting. He believes in the basic goodness of man and has no reason to suspect anyone of deceiving him or plotting behind his back. His faith in human nature is complete to the point of naivete. Iago, on the other hand, holds his fellow man in contempt. He feels that men are basically untrustworthy and is suspicious of all of their motives. (He even suspects two of the honest men of the play, Othello and Cassio, of sleeping with his wife.) He feels such things as reputation, love, loyalty, and fidelity are meaningless, since they are directed toward other people. As a supreme egotist, Iago feels it is important to trust and survive only for himself. Seeing virtue in others merely makes him unhappy.

13. Darkness is used in several ways. As a sign of disorder and chaos, the play's turbulent scenes are set at night: the first act, where Othello and Desdemona have eloped in secret; Act II, Scene iii, where Cassio is disgraced; Act V, where Iago's plan reaches its height and Desdemona is murdered. Darkness also represents Othello's complexion, which sets him apart from the Venetians and makes him an object of suspicion. In Act V, it represents death, when Othello compares Desdemona's life to a lighted candle, so easily snuffed out but impossible to re-light. Finally, darkness (or blackness) stands for the gradual corruption of Othello's soul as Iago tempts him into evil thoughts. When Emilia learns of Desdemona's death, she cries, "O the more angel she, / And you the blacker devil!"

14. For all of his experience as a soldier, Othello has not been around many women. He feels shy and uneasy around them, and he's easily convinced that their behavior could fool him. As a newcomer to Venice, he also believes that Venetian women are particularly likely to be unfaithful. Also, Othello is older than his wife, and of a different race, so he is sensitive to Iago's suggestion that Desdemona will soon be looking for someone younger and more attractive. Finally, Othello and Desdemona have not been married very long; he doesn't know her well enough to know that infidelity would never cross her mind. By being aware of all of these weaknesses, Iago knows exactly how to go about manipulating his victim.

15. You could answer this question in a number of ways. You might take a structural approach and discuss how the events of the play build to create tension and suspense. You might discuss the characters (particularly Othello and Iago) and how their personalities create excitement. Another way might be to discuss the incidents of luck and coincidence that contribute to Iago's success and Othello's downfall. Or you might discuss the use of action-fights, storms, deaths, etc.- that Shakespeare uses to keep the play lively and fast-paced.

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