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Shakespeare: Othello

13. Act 3, Scene 3: The Seeds of Jealousy are Planted

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the central third of Act 3, Scene 3, the pivotal scene in which Iago plants in Othello’s mind a seed of doubt about Desdemona’s fidelity. In particular, we think about: (i) the relative valuation of money and reputation, which is here precisely the opposite of what Iago has said before to Roderigo and Cassio, respectively; (ii) the use of animal imagery, this time by Othello by himself (“Exchange me for a goat”, 183); (iii) the idea, once again, of Desdemona as a “seemer”, i.e. someone who pretends – or deceives (“She did deceive her father, marrying you”, 209); and (iv) Othello’s great soliloquy at 262-83, in which he overestimates Iago (“This fellow’s of exceeding honesty”, 262) and himself falls prey to self-doubt (“I … have not those soft parts of conversation | That chamberers have”, 267-9).


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 3, Scene 3: The Seeds of Jealousy are Planted [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Shakespeare: Othello – Act 3, Scene 3: The Seeds of Jealousy are Planted." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 27 Jan 2019,

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