The Purpose of this Blog

Your task on this blog is to write a brief summary of what we learned in class today. Include enough detail so that someone who was ill or missed the lesson can catch up with what they missed. Over the course of the term, these 'class scribe' posts will grow to be a guide book for the course, written by students for students.

With each post ask yourself the following questions:
1) Is this good enough for our guide book?
2) Will your post enable someone who wasn't here to catch up?
3) Would a graphic/video/link help to illustrate what we have learned?

Friday, 11 November 2011

Act 3.3 - The Tipping Point

To begin with, we individually had to think of what a 'tipping point' was and how this related to Othello.

I personally thought it was a point in which everything starts to go downhill or changes for the worst, in relation to Anouilh 'the spring has started to uncoil'. This would link to Othello as we've read Iago's plan is set in motion and is now starting to take a significant place in the play.

However, after much conferring Sir gave us a final definition. This being 'the point at which something changes from one state into a new, different state.'

We then proceeded to read through Act 3 Scene 3, stopping when we felt we had come across an important part.

Here are some of the key points which make up much of what we read in the lesson:

  • Sorrowful Cassio persuades Desdemona to ask Othello to reinstate him, declaring 'my general will forget my love and service.'

  • Next, Iago arrives with Othello who slyly comments on a hurried Cassio 'ha! I like not that.'

  • Othello is then faced by a pleading Desdemona who so desperately wants her dear friend Cassio to have his job back, telling her husband 'good love, call him back.'

  • When Desdemona leaves, Iago begins to work on planting the seed of doubt in Othello's mind. Iago questions, with intent, Othello's knowledge of his former worker.

We then argued that the tipping point within Act 3 Scene 3 could be when Iago simply says in 5 mono-syllables to Othello 'Ha! I like not that.'
This is as, without saying much Iago managed to force doubt in Othello's mind and question the relationship between Desdemona and Michael Cassio.

Iago had begun to 'pour pestilence into Othello's ear', and so we analysed the ways in which Iago done this, and had forced the spring to begin uncoiling.

- Between lines 100 and 107, Iago constantly repeats Othello when being asked questions. When Othello asks "is he not honest?" Iago replies "with "honest, my lord?"

- Again, when Othello asks Iago "what dost thou think?" Iago responds "think my lord"

This is seen as Iago not using adjacency pairs, which is very common in his dialogue. I believe this is him showing his power and control over the other characters.

Desdemona also helps Iago's plan, by continually begging Othello take Cassio back and aiding her husbands mind to wander and come up with his assumptions on her real intentions behind her act.

Desdemona (asking about Cassio's reinstatement): but shall't be shortly?
Othello: the sooner, sweet, for you
Desdemona: shall't be tonight at supper?
Othello: no, not tonight.
Desdemona: why then, tomorrow night, tuesday morn, tuesday noon, or night, or wednesday night.

From a sheet, we then examined the conversation between Iago and Othello and broke it down into sub-headings.

Agenda-setting and topic changes:
Iago is very clever at controlling the conversation, without Othello even realising Iago can manage to alter the topic by focusing on Cassio and Desdemona.

First of all Othello initiates the dialogue, however later on when Iago starts to feed him information Iago begins to initiate a new conversation. Iago also interrupts Othello to quiestion Cassio's intentions.

Distribution and length of turns:
Othello's lines are longer than Iago's, however Iago's have more of an impact.

Adjacency pairs:
Iago quite often misuses adjacency pairs on purpose. When asked a question Iago usually replies with a question, this could be him authorising his power over the other characters or just confusing them in a bid to later manipulate them.

The co-operative principle:
Iago says very little in each response however it is so powerful and said in a doubtful but manipulative way. It is also partly relevant as he is feeding Othello with false information regarding Desdemona and Cassio. Othello's lines are both lengthy and passionate, they are said calmly but you sense he is bothered and slightly irritated by the accusations Iago is subconsciously making him conjure up.

Politeness principles:
Iago reassures Othello "Cassio, I dare be sworn I think that he is honest" this shows Iago is purposely trying to defend Cassio. But by saying 'think' he is showing Othello he is doubtful, resulting in Othello also doubting Cassio.

Modes of address:
Iago always calls Othello 'my lord', this distinguishes the difference between the way Iago speaks to certain characters or could be a form of Iago's manipualtion. Also, Othello refers to Iago as 'honest Iago' which conveys to the audience how much Iago has managed to deceive the other characters.

Taboo words:
Iago uses the word 'cuckold', meaning when a husband has cheated on his wife, against Othello. This is snide and is used as by now Iago is becoming agitated by previous rumors of Iago's wife Emilia cheating with Othello, and wants Othello to think the worst of Desdemona and Cassio.

Iago says to Othello "my lord, you know I love you", this conveys Iago as having foresight into which Cassio is supposedly going to betray Othello and so Iagois preparing to take his place in Othello's high regards. However, Othello believes Iago is simply saying he will be there for him no matter what.



  1. Well done soph, this is a really in depth and informative blog :)

  2. This is a really good blog.
    It's helped me understand the homework and everything I missed in class so thanks :)


  3. very detailed and helpful, thanks Sophie :)