Othello Close Reading Worksheet (Act 2, Scene 3)

This editable close reading exercise features 8 text-dependent, higher-order questions, helping students improve reading comprehension of Shakespeare’s Othello (Act 2, Scene 3) with emphasis on Iago’s manipulation of Roderigo, Cassio, and other Cypriots to advance his goals. By engaging in this exercise, students will analyze character motivations and development, analyze the craft of Shakespeare’s language for meaning, apply knowledge of literary devices such as metaphor, discern meaning from Shakespearean text, 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 meaning: Othello’s plan to make Cassio “full of quarrel and offense.”
  • Defining complex vocabulary in context: caroused.
  • Analyzing the effect of archaic vocabulary in context: potations.
  • Analyzing archaic phrasing for meaning: pottle-deep.
  • Analyzing complex phrasing for meaning: noble swelling spirits.
  • Analyzing character motivations: “Have I tonight flustered with flowing cups.”
  • Analyzing character motivations: “Now ’mongst this flock of drunkards / Am I to put our Cassio in some action / That may offend the isle.”
  • Applying knowledge of literary devices (metaphor) and make inferences about characterization: “My boat sails freely, both with wind and steam.”
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Created: May 18, 2019

Updated: May 27, 2019


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pdf, 108 KB



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