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Shakespeare: Othello

6. Act 1, Scene 3: Othello on Trial

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In this module, we explore the first half of the Act 1, Scene 3, in which Othello is told about the military threat to Cyprus – and must also defend himself against Brabantio’s accusation that he has “abused, stolen from me, and corrupted” his daughter. In particular, we think about (i) the balance between the political (the threat to Cyprus) and the personal (Brabantio’s concern regarding Othello his daughter); (ii) Othello’s long speech at 129-70 in which he describes how he courted (and won) Desdemona; (iii) Brabantio’s warning to Othello (“She has deceived her father, and may thee”, 294) and Othello’s reaction (“My life upon her faith!”, 295); and (iv) Othello’s relationship with Desdemona.


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 3: Othello on Trial [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Shakespeare: Othello – Act 1, Scene 3: Othello on Trial." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 27 Jan 2019,

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