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Shakespeare: Othello

8. Act 2, Scene 1: Welcome to Cyprus

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About this Lecture


In this module, we look at the first half of Act 2, Scene 1, from the beginning of the scene to the entrance of Othello (lines 1-178). In particular, we focus on: (i) the dramatic ‘housekeeping’ that is required as the we leave Venice behind and find ourselves in Cyprus; (ii) the character of Cassio; (iii) the treatment of Desdemona on her arrival to the island; (iv) Iago’s relationship with his wife, Emilia, and with Desdemona; (v) Desdemona’s confession that she too “seems” (i.e. pretends to be something she’s not); (vi) Cassio’s relationship with Desdemona; and (vii) Iago’s famous aside (167-77) in which he further plots Othello’s downfall.


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 2, Scene 1: Welcome to Cyprus [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Shakespeare: Othello – Act 2, Scene 1: Welcome to Cyprus." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 27 Jan 2019,

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