Characterization in Othello

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SWBAT identify and use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of a character from Othello.

Big Idea

What a tangled web we weave: Finding character connections


Following completion of the first three Acts in Othello, I like to take a step back and look at the motivations and activities of the characters.  As traditional with a Shakespearean tragedy, the connections among characters can become a tangled web of relationships.  Accordingly, I have students create a map of all the characters and identify how they are connected.  Students will then be able to make inferences into character motivations; this concept is the impetus behind the bipoem assignment.

Connections among Characters

20 minutes

To begin the lesson, I will ask the class to volunteer the names of all the characters in the play that we have been introduced so far. Once a list is comprised, students will then create a flow chart that indicates the relationships among all the characters. I have enclosed a completed sample and a blank copy.

Othello Biopoem

30 minutes

Once the character map is established, students will choose one of the characters and write a biopoem on that character by completing the attached template.  This activity is different from a traditional biopoem because it has been accommodated to meet the Common Core.  The assignment requires students to use phrases and words from the text in completing the template. The purpose of this assignment is for students to have an ability to step into the shoes of one of the characters.  In order to complete the template, students will have to make many inferences into what motivates the character.  The attached template further explains how to structure the poem.

If technology is available, I have adapted the biopoem into a video poem by using iMovie.  See attached.

Read Othello Act IV, scene ii

20 minutes

As we read this scene in Othello, I illustrate to students how Shakespeare demonstrates his mastery of language.  Othello is inquiring about the handkerchief because he is aware that Desdemona has "misplaced" it.  While he questions her about its whereabouts, Desdemona is skillfully trying to change the subject.