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Shakespeare: Othello

12. Act 3, Scenes 1-3: The Morning After the Night Before

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In this module, we go through the first two scenes of Act 3, both of which are relatively short, before looking in more detail at the first third of Act 3, Scene 3, up to the point at which Iago enters (line 93). In particular, we think about: (i) the purpose of Act 3, Scene 1 – what does it add to the play?; (ii) the concepts of harmony and chaos (“When I love thee not | Chaos is come again”, 3.3.91-92); and (iii) Iago’s off-the-cuff comment about Cassio (“Ha, I like not that”, 3.3.34) and its immediate impact on the relationship between Othello and Desdemona (“grant me this, | To leave me but a little to myself.”, 3.3.84-85).


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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McRae, J. (2019, January 27). Shakespeare: Othello - Act 3, Scenes 1-3: The Morning After the Night Before [Video]. MASSOLIT.

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McRae, J. "Shakespeare: Othello – Act 3, Scenes 1-3: The Morning After the Night Before." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 27 Jan 2019,

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