Activity Overview

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.

Othello Five Act Structure Example

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.

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 visual plot diagram of Othello.

  1. Separate the play into the Prologue/Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Denouement.
  2. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the acts.
  3. Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.

Lesson Plan Reference

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


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

Five Act Structure Rubric (Grades 9-12)
Create a plot diagram for the play using Prologue/Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
Proficient Emerging Beginning Try Again
Descriptive and Visual Elements
Cells have many descriptive elements, and provide the reader with a vivid representation.
Cells have many descriptive elements, but flow of cells may have been hard to understand.
Cells have few descriptive elements, or have visuals that make the work confusing.
Cells have few or no descriptive elements.
Textables have three or fewer spelling/grammar errors.
Textables have four or fewer spelling/grammar errors.
Textables have five or fewer spelling/grammar errors.
Textables have six or more spelling/grammar errors.
Evidence of Effort
Work is well written and carefully thought out. Student has done both peer and teacher editing.
Work is well written and carefully thought out. Student has either teacher or peer editing, but not both.
Student has done neither peer, nor teacher editing.
Work shows no evidence of any effort.
All parts of the plot are included in the diagram.
All parts of the plot are included in the diagram, but one or more is confusing.
Parts of the plot are missing from the diagram, and/or some aspects of the diagram make the plot difficult to follow.
Almost all of the parts of the plot are missing from the diagram, and/or some aspects of the diagram make the plot very difficult to follow.

How To Discuss Five Act Structure With Younger Students


Describe the concept

Start by describing how tales, like movies and books, frequently have a framework that aids in keeping the audience interested by helping to order the happenings. You can incorporate illustrations from well-known children's books or films that they are already familiar with. Use a step-by-step approach and explain each element separately with more details.


Talk about Examples

After presenting the idea and leading interactive exercises, talk about further examples from children's books or movies that use the Five Act Structure. This will solidify their comprehension and demonstrate how this form is frequently employed in narrative.


Stress Creativity

Remind the students that even though the Five Act format offers a framework, they can still be imaginative and develop their own original stories within this format. Teachers can also tell them how this framework can be used in different ways.


Use Interactive Activities

To make the concept easier and more interesting, teachers can introduce role-playing and storytelling to students. Students can use these interactive activities in a more meaningful way to understand complex concepts.


Review and Questions

Review the Five Act Structure at the conclusion of the class and ask the students if they have any questions. Encourage them to discuss their new knowledge and how they plan to use it in their own narratives.

Frequently Asked Questions About Othello Five Act Structure

How does Othello's falling action settle the issues of the play?

The play's themes are resolved by Othello's falling action, which demonstrates the dangers of jealousy and the value of confidence. Othello murders Desdemona, the woman he loves, as a result of his jealousy. Both Othello's and Desdemona's lives are destroyed by this act of violence. The play's dropping action demonstrates how envy is a negative force that may destroy lives. The falling motion also demonstrates how crucial trust is. Othello is doomed because of his mistaken faith in Iago. The play's descending action demonstrates the significance of being cautious about whom you may trust and always remaining alert to potential threats.

What distinguishes the climax of Othello from the climaxes of previous plays by Shakespeare?

Othello's finale differs in a few respects from the climaxes of previous Shakespearean plays. Othello's climax is not a physical occurrence like a duel or a war. The psychological event in which Othello kills Desdemona serves as the play's climax instead. Also, Othello's climax is not an abrupt or unwelcome occurrence. Instead, it is the result of a protracted and intricate series of circumstances.

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