Othello Themes

This Storyboard That activity is part of the lesson plans for The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice


Othello - Theme

Example



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Activity Overview


Valuable aspects of any literary work are its themes, symbols, and motifs. Part of the Common Core ELA standards is to introduce and explain these complex concepts. However, abstract ideas are often difficult for students to anatomize without assistance. Using a storyboard, students can visually demonstrate their understanding of these concepts, and master analysis of literary elements. For best practices, see our article with specific lesson plan steps on setting up your classroom and activities to teach themes, symbols, and motifs.


Themes to Look For and Discuss

Race/Prejudice

Throughout the play, Othello, a Moor, is seen as an outsider. Although he holds a position of high power in Venice, he is still a victim of racial prejudice. He marries a nobleman’s daughter and, because of their interracial marriage, jealousy, skepticism, and revenge ensue.


The Seed of Suspicion

Throughout the play, there is no evidence or proof of Desdemona’s infidelity. However, it is Iago who constantly plants a seed of suspicion in Othello’s mind that causes his jealousy to flare. The smoking gun for Othello is the embroidered handkerchief Iago stole to plant in Cassio's room.


The Handkerchief

The handkerchief is a major symbol in the play. It was first given to Desdemona by Othello as a token of his love, which she cherished. Later, when she tries to put it on Othello’s head, he pushes her away and she drops it. Emilia, Iago’s wife, steals it so that it can be planted on Cassio. For Othello, it is a symbol that shows broken love and Desdemona's infidelity. When she loses it and it is found with Cassio, in his mind it is like her giving herself to someone else. There is an element of foreshadowing as well. When he gave it to Desdemona, Othello told her it was his mother's, and that an Egyptian charmer put a spell on it that would keep his father faithful. From the beginning, the handkerchief is associated with jealousy.



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Template and Class Instructions

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Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes in Othello. Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.


  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify the theme(s) from Othello you wish to include and replace the "Theme 1" text.
  3. Create an image for an example that represents this theme.
  4. Write a description of each of the examples.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.

Template: Theme

Template


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Rubric

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