This editable close reading exercise features 9 text-dependent, higher-order questions, helping students improve reading comprehension of Shakespeare’s Othello (Act 1, Scene 3) with emphasis on the intensifying conflict between Othello and Brabantio. By engaging in this exercise, students will analyze character motivations and development, discern meaning from Shakespearean text, locate textual evidence in support of answers, and make active reading visible. An answer key with detailed rationale for each correct option is included, as are Word Document, Google Document, and PDF versions of the assessment.
This resource aligns well to Adolescent Literacy Project teaching principles. I recommend using these worksheets as the basis for small-group discussions. Through these discussions, students decode Shakespeare’s language and pose/respond to questions relating to plot, broad topics, and character development, demonstrating an ability to analyze how complex characters transform and advance the plot and themes by applying logic and citing compelling, meaningful textual evidence. They will also evaluate their peers’ reasoning and use of rhetoric to advance claims, clarifying or challenging unclear ideas. Using this resource for structured guidance, students, ultimately, will present information, conclusions, and supporting textual evidence clearly, concisely, and appropriately, thereby helping their peers – and teacher – comprehend their thinking. In the role of facilitator, I observe my students becoming more consistently engaged with the novel and taking greater ownership of their learning.
In addition to helping students gain deeper understanding of the material and greater confidence in their ability to read and comprehend complex texts, this resource was designed to prepare students for ACT-style questioning.
More specifically, questions pertain to the following:
- Analyzing text for tone.
- Analyzing the text for meaning: discerning Othello’s self-described weakness.
- Analyzing text for meaning: how long Othello has fought in wars.
- Analyzing text for meaning: Othello’s willingness to disclose the truth of his courting of Desdemona.
- Analyzing text for meaning: how Brabantio describes his daughter.
- Analyzing text for meaning: the type of person Brabantio thinks would believe Othello’s claims.
- Analyzing text for meaning: the devil’s role in the union, according to Brabantio.