Othello Act II Summary Response Outline
- Topic sentence: Shakespeare’s Othello exemplifies how thoughtless decisions can lead to devastating consequences.
- Supporting ideas to prove main ideas: At the opening of the act, the lieutenant of Othello, Michael Cassio, is standing guard while Cyprus celebrates the end of the war and Othello’s marriage. Iago joins him and entreats him to drink some wine. Cassio, who knows he is not good at processing alcohol, decides to enjoy a drink anyways. It is not long before he is inebriated and accidentally stabs Montano, who was only trying to break up the fight between Cassio and Roderigo. Othello arrives soon after, and, upon hearing of Cassio’s foolish actions, strips him of his lieutenancy. Shakespeare thus displays the dangers of careless deeds and how they can have serious repercussions.
- Topic sentence: Othello, by WIlliam Shakespeare, correctly portrays how misogyny is prevalent throughout the men of the play, because the men mock women for being inferior to them.
- Pick a Side
- Claim 1: Iago mocks women in his poems, and claims that what he says is the truth.
- Set-up Iago, Desdemona, Cassio, and Emilia are gathered together after arriving in Cyprus. Iago, having being asked by Desdemona to describe women, elucidates,
- Evidence: Lead-in “If she be fair and wise, fairness and wit, the one’s for use, the other useth it,” (Shakespeare, Act 2.1, 144-145).
- Explanation of quotation to prove claim Iago thus claims that if a women is both beautiful and smart, she would use her beauty to get what she wants. This assumption automatically surmises that women are shallow and will use their looks to get what they want.
- Counterclaim 1: However, Othello clearly admires Desdemona, and is devoted to her in a way that goes above and beyond what most husbands in that time period would have felt.
- Set-up Othello, disembarking from his ship, is elated at being with Desdemona again. Upon seeing her, he declares,
- Evidence: Lead-in “It gives me wonder great as my content
To see you here before me. Oh, my soul’s joy!
If after every tempest come such calms,
May the winds blow till they have wakened death,
And let the laboring bark climb hills of seas
Olympus-high, and duck again as low
As hell’s from heaven! If it were now to die,
'Twere now to be most happy, for I fear
My soul hath her content so absolute
That not another comfort like to this
Succeeds in unknown fate,” (Shakespeare, Act 2, 199-209).
- Explanation of quotation to prove counterclaim: Othello lionizes Desdemona, despite the fact that he has just arrived in Cyprus on important business. A man of his position is needed to help keep the peace and ensure public stability, and here he is saying that the mere presence of this woman makes him more happy than words can say. If Othello was a misogynist, he would have gone straight to work in Cyprus, or would have admonished her for some biased fault like Iago.
- What are the strengths/ flaws of this argument? Rebuttal progression
At first glance, the idea that Othello believes Desdemona to be his equal appears to be almost blatantly obvious. It cannot be denied that Othello’s love for Desdemona is first and foremost in his mind, but loving a person and considering them your equal are two very different ideals.
In a way, Othello did not think of Desdemona as exactly equal. After he dismissed Cassio as his second-in-command, he spoke to Desdemona when she asked what was going on.
“All’s well (now), sweeting. Come away to bed... Come, Desdemona. ‘Tis the soldier's life,” (Shakespeare, Act 2, 269-276). Here, Othello seems to not think Desdemona worthy of knowing what was going on between the men, as beliefs of that time period often stated women should not be involved in a man’s business or conflict. Additionally, there’s this underlying subtext of “You are my wife. You are here to please me, and so let us go do just that.” Desdemona isn’t there because Othello believes her to be vital to the war effort; she’s there because she’s there to perform the simple tasks of a perfect wife.
Women - wives especially - were considered to be possessions in the setting of Othello - it was just the conventional belief of the time. They were like pieces of land; they could be used for profit, military gain, or for religious reasons. Misogyny was a fact of life, just as racism is in parts of America today.
- Concluding sentence: restate main idea
Shakespeare’s Othello put forth a staggering example of how prejudice against women was a major issue and a commonality for the time period.