Activity Overview

As students read, a storyboard can serve as a helpful character reference log. This log (also called a character map) allows students to recall relevant information about important characters. When reading a play, small attributes and details frequently become important as the plot progresses. With character mapping, students will record this information, helping them follow along and catch the subtleties which make reading more enjoyable!

Using a character map for Shakespeare is often even more beneficial because it also allows students to record the nuances of characteristics that create foil characters. The information that they record will help them to return and review personalities that contrast. The ability to visually see this with help bridge connections for students and make understanding the concept easier.

Major Characters in Othello

Othello A Venetian general sent to Cyprus to stop Turkish invaders.
Desdemona Daughter of a Venetian senator. She married Othello secretly.
Iago The villain, and Othello’s ensign.
Cassio Michael Cassio is Othello’s Lieutenant. He is framed for an affair with Desdemona.
Roderigo A rich Venetian who desperately wants to be with Desdemona.
Bianca A prostitute whom Cassio frequently visits.
Emilia Iago's wife.
Brabanzio Desdemona's father.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

Create a character map for the major characters.

  1. Identify the major characters in Othello and type their names into the different title boxes.
  2. Choose a character from the "Medieval" tab to represent each of the literary characters.
    • Select colors and a pose appropriate to story and character traits.
  3. Choose a scene or background that makes sense for the character.
  4. Fill in the text boxes for Physical Features, Traits, Major Conflict, and Other Notes.

Lesson Plan Reference

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/11-12/10] By the end of grade 11, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 11-CCR text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

    By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of the grades 11-CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently
  • [ELA-Literacy/W/11-12/6] Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information
  • [ELA-Literacy/W/11-12/9] Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Character Map Template
Create a character map of the characters in the story. Put the character's name in the title boxes and choose a character and scene to represent each one. As you read, take notes on the characters by answering the questions.
33 Points
25 Points
17 Points
Character Picture & Scene
The characters and scenes are both appropriate for the book's characters.
Many of the characters and scenes match the book's characters.
More than half of the characters and scenes do not match the characters in the book.
Accuracy of Notes
Most of the information of the notes is correct.
Many of the notes have correct information, but some are incorrect or missing.
Less than half of the information of the notes is correct and relevant.
Work is complete, thorough, and neat.
Most of the sections of the character map were at least attempted and work is presentable.
Character map is unfinished and/or disorganized.

How To Teach The Concept of Foil Characters


Provide Overview of Foil Characters

Introduce the idea of foil characters first. Use meaningful examples from daily life to help students understand how disparities may draw attention to certain features, such as the divergent personalities of friends or family members. Teachers can begin by giving simple simple definitions and highlighting the significance of foil characters.


Investigating Contrasts

Help students analyze how the main character and their foil differ from one another. What qualities stand out? Are these characteristics good or bad? How do these contrasts affect the story's themes or the growth of the characters?


Comparison of Traits

On the board, draw a Venn diagram or chart. List the characteristics of the foil character on one side and those of the main character on the other. Decide whether qualities are opposing or complimentary. Students may be better able to understand the subject after seeing it represented visually. Students can also carry out this activity by themselves.


Discuss the Impacts of Role Reversal

Encourage students to speculate on what could occur if the foil switched places with the main character. How might the narrative be altered? What new information does this offer on the significance of foil characters?


Group Discussion

Assign several texts or scenarios featuring foil characters to small groups of students. Ask them to discuss their research with the class, highlighting how the foil characters help readers comprehend the major characters and the plot as a whole.

Frequently Asked Questions About Othello Character Map

What characters are commonly depicted in a character map for "Othello"?

The major figures from the play, including Othello, Desdemona, Iago, Cassio, Emilia, and Roderigo, are usually included on an "Othello" character map. It could also have ancillary figures like Brabantio, the Duke of Venice, and Montano, depending on how complicated the map is and what the students actually want to understand through this map.

What kind of relationship does Roderigo have with Iago?

Iago uses Roderigo's affection for Desdemona to further his own agenda. By offering to assist him in obtaining Desdemona's devotion, he persuades Roderigo to carry out his will. Iago, however, manipulates Roderigo's feelings and employs him as a pawn in a greater plan. Students can depict this complex relationship on the character map using different colors and symbols.

Can a character map show a character's development or changes?

Character maps can indeed show a character's development or changes throughout the course of the play. The map can graphically illustrate how the character's interactions and motives change over time by incorporating significant occasions or choices that influence the character's growth.

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