Five Act Structure in The Tragedy of Othello
Lesson Plan Reference
Grade Level 9-12
Difficulty Level 1 (Introducing / Reinforcing)
Type of Assignment Individual or Partner
Type of Activity: The Five Act Play (Dramatic Structure)Common Core Standards
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/11-12/2] Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/11-12/3] Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed)
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/11-12/5] Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact
Students can create and show a storyboard that captures the concept of the Five Act Structure by making a six-cell storyboard, like the one below. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the acts in order: Prologue, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Denouement.
Example Othello Five Act Structure
Act 1: Prologue
The play takes place in Venice during Act I and on the Island of Cyprus during Acts 2-5.
Act 1: Conflict
Othello and Desdemona are attempting to build a life together. However, their relationship is sabotaged by the envious friend, Iago, who convinces Othello that Desdemona is unfaithful to him.
Act 2: Rising Action
Iago speaks to the audience and tells them his plan to split up Desdemona and Othello. Part of the plan includes getting Cassio, a lieutenant, fired from his position.
Act 3: Climax
Iago plants a handkerchief of Desdemona’s in Cassio’s room to make it appear that the two have been together. Othello finally believes Iago, and vows that he will not stop until he has his revenge.
Act 4: Falling Action
Othello smothers Desdemona with a pillow, and Iago attempts to kill Cassio. However, Emilia, Iago's wife, exposes his plan.
Act 5: Denouement
Othello kills himself and Iago is taken away to be tortured. The reader is left with disbelief and despair, but some satisfaction that Iago is found out.
(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)
Create a visual plot diagram of Othello.
- Separate the play into the Prologue/Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Denouement.
- Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the acts.
- Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.
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