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Shakespeare: Othello

5. Act 1, Scene 2: Othello is Summoned by the Duke

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In this module, we explore Act 1, Scene 2, in which Othello is summoned by the Duke to deal with some business. In particular, we focus on: (i) the contrast between the characters of Iago and Othello, both physically and otherwise; (ii) the plot twist as Othello is summoned to the Duke … but not for the reasons we have been led to expect; (iii) the uneasy relationship between Cassio and Iago; and (iv) the uneasy relationship between Othello and Brabantio.


In this twenty-one part course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Shakespeare’s Othello. We begin with a broad introduction to the historical, political and intellectual context of early 17th-century England, before going through the play scene-by-scene, providing close reading and detailed analysis, with commentary on character, plot, themes and motifs, language, symbolism, and more.

Note: We used the Arden edition of the play (Third Series, Revised Edition, ed. E. A. J. Honigmann). Students using a different version of the play may encounter slight differences in both the text and line numbers.


John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.

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APA style

McRae, J. (2019, January 27). Shakespeare: Othello - Act 1, Scene 2: Othello is Summoned by the Duke [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Shakespeare: Othello – Act 1, Scene 2: Othello is Summoned by the Duke." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 27 Jan 2019,

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